The Slaughter of the Innocents

Above: The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Reubens, The Thomson Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario

By Br. Robert Wotypka, OFM Cap

I’m presiding at Mass today, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, with the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee. I wish I needed a homily, I do. But I don’t. What I feel called to preach on comes from Vox and the Washington Post:

Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin spent her seventh birthday on a trip she was overjoyed to take — traveling with her father from their impoverished farm in rural Guatemala to the United States. Her grandfather remembered her jumping with joy when she found out they were migrating. She was going from a life where her family of seven survived on $5 a day — and where she’d never owned a toy or a pair of shoes — to one where she hoped she’d learn to read and write, and, eventually, join her father in making money to send to their family back home.

A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in.

More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”

After a helicopter flight to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, the child went into cardiac arrest and “was revived,” according to the agency. “However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported,” CBP said.


Felipe Gomez Alonzo and his father had been caught entering the United States illegally Dec. 18, a few miles west of a legal border crossing in El Paso. Border agents say they were given hot food, juice, snacks and water. For the most part, Felipe seemed fine as agents moved him and his father from one station to another, including late at night, as holding cells filled up.

But then the boy started to cough, his eyes glassy. He was taken to the hospital, where his fever spiked to 103 degrees. After doses of antibiotics and ibuprofen, the hospital released him to Customs and Border Protection.

By the time Felipe and his father were brought to the highway checkpoint near the White Sands National Monument, they had been in custody for six days — double the 72 hours Border Patrol standards recommend. Over the next several hours, the boy vomited and looked sluggish. He lost consciousness on the way back to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, where he became the second migrant child to die in federal custody this month.