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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 NielsenCongressional Hispanic Caucus demands answers on death of migrant children Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post Kobach gave list of demands to White House for 'immigration czar' job: report 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.