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Migrant child dies while in federal custody

Over the past few months, the immigration debate has reached a fever pitch. The federal government has made its intentions known when it comes to handling people crossing the Mexico-United States border illegally.

One of the rising scenes at the border over the past few months is children. A number of families are taking big chances, crossing over with their small children in tow. Why are families choosing to do this in such large numbers, even after the United States has begun cracking down?

Out of options

For many of the people trying to get into the United States, it is more of a need than a want. People in Central America, especially Guatemala, are facing difficult times due to poverty and crime. The large mass of people, estimated at 3,000, began the arduous journey on foot up through Mexico months ago. Some men and women traveled alone, leaving their older relatives behind to care for their children. Others carried their children with them, many out of need.

Children help gain entry

The father of a migrant boy who died on Christmas Eve while detained by U.S. immigration authorities claims he knew the risks when he chose to bring his son on the journey. The father chose this particular son (out of three) because he was enthusiastic and wanted to live a better life in America. The father also admitted he believed having his 8-year-old son with him would increase his chances of gaining entry at the border.

The reason for the boy's death is still under investigation. He fell ill on the sixth day while in custody, spiked a fever, vomited and eventually died. Many advocates for immigration reform demand better facilities and health screenings for children caught in the middle of border unrest.

The boy's family in Guatemala asked that the U.S. government allow the boy's father to remain in America as a consolation for losing his son. They also request that the government send the boy's body back to Guatemala for proper burial once they find the cause of death.

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