Juan de Leon Gutierrez attempted to migrate to the United States via the borders near Honduras. The 16-year-old son hoped to join his migrant brother in the US.
The boy left their small town of Tizamarte in southern Guatemala on April 4. Two weeks later, the US custody officials detained Juan after trying to illegally cross the US-Mexico border. Following the custody was his transfer to a migrant youth shelter.
Because of an infection in his head, the boy had to undergo surgery on April 30, of which his death followed, local media reported.
Records show that minors from Guatemala died under US custody; Juan is the third.
Transito Gutierrez, 46, said that she didn’t want her son to go. However, the young lad insisted. Now, he left his family devastated.
“I’ve lost my son, but his soul is still with us”
US authorities detained Juan on April 19 after attempting to enter US borders near El Paso, Texas. On the following day, the boy was transferred to Southwest Key Casa Pedra, a resettlement facility for migrant youth.
Before the boy’s transfer, the boy had no notable health concerns, said Evelyn Stauffer, spokesperson for the Administration for Children and Families under the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
It was on April 21 when Juan started having fever, chills, and headache. Authorities brought him to the hospital for treatment. However, his condition did not recover. He was then placed in an intensive care unit but eight days later, he died.
Migration has become a necessity
Southern Guatemala is a drying region. Many are migrating due to worsening climate change and poverty. In the last two years, the situation has worsened.
Necessity forces the inhabitants to transfer. Only a little work is available for a growing number of families. Resources are scarce and drought is escalating.