Teenage Migrant Dies in Custody, 5th Child Since December

Clay Curtis
May 21, 2019

He was apprehended for illegal entry on May 13 and taken to a processing center in the Rio Grande Valley before being transferred to the Weslaco facility Sunday, where he was awaiting placement with the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was found unresponsive in his detention cell "during a welfare check" Monday, a day after a nurse practitioner had diagnosed him with Influenza A and Border Patrol officials had moved to isolate him from other detained migrants, a CBP official told reporters during a conference call. A CBP official said officers follow instructions from HHS in determining where and when to send apprehended kids.

"The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family", Sanders said.

Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders said in a statement that the agency "is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody". Weeks later, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of flu complicated by sepsis while in Customs and Border Protection custody.

The Guatemalan foreign ministry requested that USA authorities urgently explain the cause of death. A Border Patrol agent faced charges over accusations that he hit a Guatemalan migrant with his Border Patrol vehicle in December 2017.

The CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility will review the incident. "So, what we are trying to do is to be able to plan to manage that capacity safely, to bring in people where we can process them efficiently".

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In March, then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan warned of an impending humanitarian crisis due to a "stark and increasing shift to more vulnerable populations" combined with inadequate capacity for the USA government to accommodate the increase in families and children crossing the border.

Bowen, a 10-year veteran of the Border Patrol Agency, was indicted by a federal grand jury last May on charges of depriving the man of his civil rights under color of law and falsifying records.

That has in turn strained United States border facilities, which are the first stop for migrants after they are detained.

The agency did not say why the teen was transferred to the Weslaco Border Patrol station Sunday. One Guatemalan man told Reuters that he and his 9-year-old son had spent almost two weeks in Border Patrol custody in Texas, sometimes sleeping on the ground. He was hospitalized in intensive care for several days before his death.

But immigrant advocates say the administration's policies, including making it more hard for migrants to seek asylum at official ports of entry, contribute to making their journeys more arduous and drive migrants to seek out remote border outposts badly equipped to care for children. "We absolutely need paediatric health experts at the border".

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