Mother of migrant child who died thought son would help with US entry

The mother of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. custody this week says that her son traveled with her husband into the U.S. in order to better their family's chances of being approved to stay in the U.S.

Catarina Alonzo told Reuters in an interview that other migrants with children were able to cross into the U.S. after being held in detention for a month or more at a time, which many migrants see as the easiest way to make it into the United States.


“Lots of them have gone with children and managed to cross, even if they’re held for a month or two. But they always manage to get across easily,” Alonzo said, according to Reuters.

A spokeswoman for Guatemala's foreign ministry added that many "coyotes," or those who profit by smuggling migrants into the U.S., have argued that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE's plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border will hamper future smuggling efforts, forcing many migrants to attempt the journey now.

“According to interviews [with migrants], the coyotes are saying ‘it’s now or never’ because the wall is going to be built, and it won’t be possible to cross,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

Agustin Gomez, the boy's father, remains in U.S. custody. He has two brothers currently living in the U.S. whom he was hoping to reach following his and his son's crossings.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have yet to offer an official cause for the boy's death, prompting criticism from Democratic lawmakers and other opponents of the president's zero tolerance immigration policies.

The boy died on Christmas Eve, and his father has argued that he did not have symptoms before arriving in CBP custody.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms Hillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality Nielsen warns US 'not prepared' for foreign cyberattacks MORE is expected to visit the border and Homeland Security facilities in the area in coming days following a statement released concerning the boy's death from CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Tuesday.

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