FLEEING SQUALOR

Father of Dead Guatemalan Boy Crossed the Border to Flee Poverty

The 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died on Christmas morning while in U.S. custody crossed the border with his father to escape crippling poverty, according to the Associated Press. In Guatemala, the family reportedly lived in extreme poverty, with Gomez making only about $6 a day to support his six children in a house without floors. The stepsister of Felipe Gomez Alonzo told the outlet that when Agustin Gomez heard “rumors” that the pair would be allowed to cross the border, he chose to take out a loan and attempt the perilous journey to secure a better life for his son. But after the pair was detained, Gomez Alonso quickly fell ill, complaining of a stomachache and something stuck in his throat. He was taken to a hospital, but died soon after. The Associated Press reports that Gomez is still detained, and that his family is grappling with the loss of Felipe, the disappearance of their father, and the debt he left behind. “My father is suffering because of the boy. We do not know what will happen,” the stepsister said. “We have nothing to live with. We do not have money.” Gomez Alonso is the second migrant child to die in U.S. custody this month. Less that three weeks ago, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal also died after falling ill on a border patrol bus.