ICE makes changes at the U.S. border after second in-custody death

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers released another 500 migrants in Texas and New Mexico on Wednesday. Shelters in the border towns say they're overwhelmed and running out of space.

ICE has apprehended 24,000 children at the border in December alone and another child died in their custody this week. Officials said six adults have died in U.S. custody in 2018.

RELATED: Deaths of 2 children raise doubts about US border agency

On Wednesday, Homeland Security ordered mandatory medical checks on every child under 10 in U.S. custody. The screenings were prompted by the death of a second child under the agency's care.

The boy, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo from Guatemala, who was accompanied by his father, died on Christmas Eve in New Mexico, after getting released from a hospital and back into border patrol custody.

"We saw children that were dehydrated, children that needed medical care," said Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga, a professor at USF, licensed clinical social worker and expert in Latino mental health.

Hernandez-Arriaga has traveled to the border two times this year to help migrant families seeking asylum. She was in McAllen, Texas earlier this month, right before 7-year-old Jakelin Maquin died, after crossing the border with her father. Hernandez-Arriaga says she has spoken to many migrant children and their parents about the conditions in ICE detention facilities and is surprised more young migrants haven't died.

"So you're talking about this ICE facility that's freezing cold with food that we heard stories of being rotten, frozen sandwiches, one little girl talked about a worm in her sandwich, children have stopped eating."

"We have a humanitarian crisis. We have an immigration and asylum crisis that needs to be remedied in a bipartisan way," said East Bay Congressman, Mark DeSaulnier, who says it is the responsibility of the U.S. government to provide more infrastructure and services at the border.

"The asylum seekers are doing what's afforded to them under US law. We should be putting more money into the countries into El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua to help with the rule of law because of the violence."

Congressman DeSaulnier says he's hopeful that once new lawmakers are sworn in on January 3rd and Congress is back in session, that they can put pressure on the Trump Administration to work towards a bipartisan solution to the immigration crisis at the border.
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