A Migrant Child Becomes Fifth To Die Under U.S. Custom And Border Protection Since December
A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died on Monday after being detained for a week by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Texas. The teen, identified as Carlos Gregorio “Goyitio” Hernandez Vasquez, was apprehended near Hidalgo, Texas, on May 13 and was then transferred to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday.
Gregorio “Goyito” Hernandez Vasquez is the fifth Guatemalan minor to die under U.S custody since December.
Family members are mourning the tragic and avoidable death of “Goyito”. They described him as a well-behaved teen who simply wanted to help support his family. In an interview with Telemundo, relatives described the teenager as a fan of soccer and music, playing both the bass and the piano.
His family says that Vasquez made the journey with hopes of reuniting with family members already in the US. It was also to help support his eight siblings living in Guatemala, specifically, a brother who has special needs.
According to news reports, the teenager passed away just one day after being diagnosed with influenza A. On Sunday, Vasquez told the staff at the Central Processing Center that “he was not feeling well.” After seeing a nurse practitioner that determined he had the flu, Border Patrol agents went to a pharmacy to pick up medication, a CBP official said.
He passed away just six days after he was apprehended by Border Patrol agents.
Vasquez continued to receive treatment at the processing center throughout Sunday and would be transferred midday to the Weslaco station. Upon arrival, he was segregated from other detained migrants due to his illness. He would be again medically assessed and have his medication turned over to the medical professionals at the station, officials said.
The next morning, Vasquez was found unresponsive. He had been at the border patrol station for about 17 hours. When officials were asked why he was not taken to a hospital, officials said that was a decision that was up to the medical care providers at their facilities.
“The men and women of US Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” said Acting Commissioner John Sanders in a statement. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”
Shortly after his passing, it was discovered that more migrants, that were in the same processing center as Vasquez, showed signs of fevers.
On Tuesday, CBP officials found a “large number” of migrants in custody with “high fevers who are also displaying signs of a flu-related illness” at the processing center in McAllen, where Vasquez was first held.
“To avoid the spread of illness, the Rio Grande Valley Sector has temporarily suspended intake operations at the [central processing center],” CBP said in a statement.
After a health screening of the detainee population at the facility, officials had quarantined 32 migrants that had contracted influenza. CBP would temporarily stop operations over fears that more migrants getting sick.
Back in March, Kevin McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, was seeing that more migrants coming into custody under ill conditions.
“We are doing everything we can to simply avoid a tragedy in a CBP facility,” McAleenan said. “But with these numbers, with the types of illnesses we’re seeing at the border, I fear that it’s just a matter of time.”
The latest migrant death shows the reality of what’s really going on at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In April, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied migrant children, said it was on track to detain the most children in its history. Just last month, almost 100,000 families crossed the border, highlighting the growing crisis at the southern border.
Astrid Dominguez, director for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said the latest migrant death is an alarming sign of what’s going in detention centers. Last week, the ACLU filed a complaint concerning the conditions of migrants being detained in Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley facilities. The same place where Vasquez was held.
“We’ve received complaints from migrants about inhumane conditions, prolonged detention, lack of shelter, poor medical attention and abuse from agents,” Dominguez said in a statement. “We need more than an investigation, children ought to be protected. CBP needs to hire child welfare and medical professionals to humanely receive and process all arriving families.”
Lawmakers are raising their voice to point out the intentional nature of the harm done to children at the border.
We have seen the horrible impact the dangerous policies are having on the border. Children are dying in detention and families remain separated because of the “zero tolerance” policy the Trump administration implemented.
Our elected leaders are not backing down and making the noise people want to hear about the disastrous border policies.
This is why we elect people to speak for us. The American people are against a border wall and in favor of immigration. Even more, people believe that the children should be taken care of.