Homeland Security chief to visit border after death of 8-year-old migrant boy

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenActing DHS secretary says he expects Russia to attempt to interfere in 2020 elections House Homeland Security rip DHS's 'unacceptable' failure to comply with subpoena Trump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report MORE will personally review her agency's treatment of migrants, including detained minors, during an upcoming visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman said on a conference call Wednesday reported by Bloomberg that Nielsen will inspect the department's procedures and personnel involved in the detention of migrants along the border.

The inspections follow the death of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy in U.S. custody this week. It was the second incident involving a young migrant child dying in federal custody after a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died in U.S. custody earlier this month.

DHS did not immediately respond to requests for further details from The Hill on Wednesday about Nielsen's trip to the border.


Agency officials said during the conference call Wednesday that before this month it had been a decade since a minor had died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, according to Bloomberg.

Though they did not issue an official cause of death for the migrant boy, DHS officials on the call pointed to an increase in migrants suffering from illnesses crossing the border.

Customs and Border Patrol officials say that the boy was sent to a local hospital six days after his initial apprehension by agents, adding that the agency called for medical assistance when the boy's symptoms were first noticed.

“This is a tragic loss. On behalf of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, our deepest sympathies go out to the family," CPB Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, CBP said it would begin conducting "secondary medical checks upon all children in CBP care and custody" following the death of a second migrant child in U.S. custody this month.

The Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy, which mandates that all immigrants suspected of crossing the border illegally be prosecuted, has drawn criticism for its requirement that minors and their families be detained in federal facilities while they await immigration proceedings.

The president and Congress's battle over funding for plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border last week resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government, which continued this week with no immediate end in sight.