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News > Guatemala

Guatemalan Boy Who Died in US Border Custody Buried

  • Felipe Gomez's body arrived at his village in Guatemala.

    Felipe Gomez's body arrived at his village in Guatemala. | Photo: Twitter / @AGarcia507

Published 28 January 2019

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the 7-year-old migrant boy who died in U.S. custody was buried in his hometown in Guatemala. 

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the seven-year-old Guatemalan boy who died while being helpd under United States Border Patrol custody was buried Sunday at Yalambojoch, a remote Indigenous community in western Guatemala.


Guatemala: How Felipe, 7, Died Seeking A New Life In The US

Felipe left his home on Dec. 14 with his father Agustin Gomez as part of the migrant caravan.

The migrant child died on Christmas in U.S. custody after being detained by immigration authorities along with his father. Felipe wanted to reach the United States to study, find a job and help his family in Guatemala.

The boy showed signs of illness and was taken to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico where he was diagnosed with a cold and fever for which he received medication. He was taken back to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and later died there.

New Mexican authorities, after an autopsy, reported that Felipe tested positive for influenza.

The villagers held a candlelight vigil for Felipe while his mother Catalina said that even though it pained her, she at least received her son’s body to give him a proper burial.

Yalambojoch, Felipe's hometown, is a small village in the Nenton municipality, Huehuetenango department, about 400 kilometers from Guatemala City, the capital of Guatemala. Its nearly 1,000 inhabitants speak mostly Chuj and Popti, two Mayan languages, and some know Spanish.

The village is just 9 kilometers away from Mexico and members of the community are used to migrating seasonally in search of employment as they struggle to find opportunities at home.

Felipe was the second migrant child who died while under the U.S. border patrol.

Previously a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal died while in U.S. custody.

The girl and her father were detained by immigration authorities on Dec. 6 in New Mexico as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in. On Dec. 7, the girl started having seizures and was taken to a hospital where she died.

The migrant caravan, or Exodus, still happens when people leave Central American countries to reach the U.S., finding safety from human traffickers and gangs in a large group.

A new caravan of 12,000 people is reportedly moving towards Mexico’s southern border as of Friday. Some wish to apply for a humanitarian visa in Mexico which will allow them to legally reside in Mexico for a year, have a job, and also participate in various civic activities. It will also allow the migrants to reach the United States border and apply for asylum.

It was reported Friday that the U.S. was expected to send the first group of 20 Central American asylum seekers back to Mexico through the border city of Tijuana.

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