Dem leaders vow investigations after latest death of migrant child in US custody

House Democratic leaders on Wednesday vowed to investigate the deaths of two migrant children in U.S. custody.

"The death of two children in U.S. custody is unconscionable," House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials on Tuesday announced that an 8-year old Guatemalan boy had died in the agency’s custody. The boy, Felipe Gómez Alonzo, died after being hospitalized in New Mexico with flu-like symptoms, high fever and vomiting.

He had been detained with his father after crossing into the country illegally.

“It is incumbent upon Congress to ask serious questions about what happened and who bears responsibility,” House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump to Democratic negotiators: 'They know my phone number' House will be out of session for additional week in September MORE (D-Md.) said in a statement.

Hoyer, who is set to serve as majority leader when Democrats take control of the House next month, said he would hold hearings on the children’s deaths, “as well as the conditions under which thousands of children are being held.”

“I pray for comfort for the families of these children who lost their lives, and I urge the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with all the information the public deserves to know and to take action to prevent such tragedies from recurring,” Hoyer said.

Felipe's death prompted CBP to order medical checks on all children in custody. He was the second migrant child to die in CBP custody this month.

A 7-year-old girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died earlier this month after she was detained along with other migrants who illegally crossed the southern border.

"Democrats call on Homeland Security’s Inspector General to immediately open an investigation into Felipe Alzono-Gomez’s death," Pelosi said. "The Congress will also investigate this tragedy and the heartbreaking death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, to seek justice and ensure that no other child is left to such a fate.”

CBP said in a statement it “is considering options for surge medical assistance” from other government agencies, like the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CBP officials did not respond to questions about what the secondary medical checks will entail, or what kind of assistance other agencies could provide.

According to news reports, the Department of Homeland Security has asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate an uptick in “sick individuals” entering Border Patrol custody.

Alonzo and his father had been in CBP custody since Dec. 18, much longer than what is called for under agency guidelines.

The agency generally recommends detaining individuals for no more than 72 hours in CBP holding facilities.

“Every effort must be made to hold detainees for the least amount of time required for their processing, transfer, release, or repatriation as appropriate and as operationally feasible,” the guidelines state.

Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroLawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks This week: Congress set for bipartisan coronavirus talks as clock ticks Sherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (D-Texas), chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called for a congressional investigation.

“While the CBP notified Congress within 24 hours as mandated by law, we must ensure that we treat migrants and asylum-seekers with human dignity and provide the necessary medical care to anyone in the custody of the United States government. Congress should investigate this tragedy upon its return to session,” Castro said in a statement.

Other Democrats also called for an investigation.

“CBP must provide answers about how this happened, and create stronger protections for people in its custody. The loss of even one child is too great – these tragedies cannot continue,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick MORE (D-Mass.), said Wednesday.

--Updated at 2:52 p.m.