Fiona Danaher, a pediatric physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, reviewed the cases of two Guatemalan boys who died while in U.S. Border Patrol custody.

Por Alma Sacasa
Julio 16, 2020

In December 2018, two migrant children — Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, and Jakelin Caal, 7, both from Guatemala — died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to letters from Fiona Danaher, pediatric physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, the children could have been saved had the proper steps been taken in their medical care.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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Customs and Border Protection said the children's arduous journey contributed to their deaths from flu and sepsis, and that border agents weren't to blame. But in the letters, submitted to Congress on Wednesday, Dr. Danaher said more could have been done to save their lives, based on autopsy reports and witness statements. "[Felipe's] clinicians missed important clues about the severity of his illness, and they prescribed the wrong medication to treat him," Danaher said, writing to Gomez Alonzo's father.

"When you later asked the Border Patrol agents to take Felipe back to the hospital due to his worsening condition, it took nearly an hour and fifteen minutes for the transporting agent to arrive," she continued. "All of these errors delayed Felipe receiving the medical care that he so urgently needed."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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While testifying at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Wednesday, Danaher stated that the children's parents were not at fault for what happened to their children. "The law enforcement systems that should have protected [Jakelin] failed her," Danaher wrote in her letter to Caal's father.