Fifth child dies in USA border control custody

Clay Curtis
May 23, 2019

In an emailed statement Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials cited "capacity limitations" at Border Patrol stations and the limited capacity of ICE to accept family units as the reason why CBP began releasing "non-criminal, processed family units" on March 19.

The boy, Carlos Hernandez, was apprehended by US Border Patrol agents on May 13 after crossing the border illegally near Hidalgo, Texas, with a group of 70 others, according to US Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol.

The statement said that he was transferred from the Rio Grande Valley Sector's Central Processing Center to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday and was then due for placement with Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The medical examiner in Corpus Christi, Texas, said Juan had been diagnosed with a rare condition known as Pott's puffy tumour, which can be caused by a severe sinus infection or head trauma.

Last week, a 2-year-old boy from Guatemala died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas. In the case of the four previous deaths, the children died days or weeks after being treated in a hospital.

Prosecutors are eyeing the racist texts sent by a Border Patrol agent who is facing charges after running down a Guatemalan migrant with his government-issued vehicle in 2017.

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"Well I believe in this case, as in all of these cases, they were in the hospital and they passed away in custody of medical professionals and there were cases, problems that existed before they got in US custody", said Rep.

"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", said John Sanders, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

The Department of Homeland Security requires health screenings for all children taken into custody, and CBP says it has amplified its medical efforts in recent months to accommodate the influx of children and families. A CBP official said officers follow instructions from HHS in determining where and when to send apprehended kids. The boy, who was not identified and was not in USA custody at the time of his death, had suffered from complications of pneumonia, Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul general in Del Rio, Texas, told CNN.

Immigration authorities have since ordered an increase of medical checks for children in their custody, with a focus on children under 10, amid an uptick of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

President Donald Trump's administration has for months warned that the USA immigration system was at a "breaking point". Reuters photos taken last week showed adults and children outside the US Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, sleeping on the ground and rigging up makeshift awnings with reflective blankets to shelter form the sun. It also recently opened a 500-person tent near one port of entry and announced plans to open another.

"It is risky and cruel to detain people, particularly children, in crowded and unsanitary conditions for seeking protection", the organization said.

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