Things That Matter

She Died In Border Patrol Custody, Now Details Are Emerging In The 7-Year-Old Guatemalan’s Death

We can’t say this enough (and no, we won’t get “over it”): the Trump administration’s hardened stance on migration has led to mass-scale suffering and individual stories that would break just about anybody’s heart. We have already discussed the living conditions in which minors are being kept in actual cages, how families are being separated sometimes permanently and the effects of an increased used of private companies to provide housing facilities for migrants and refugees detained by ICE and Border Patrol.

There have been deaths while migrants are in custody of these agencies. And recently doctors have been detained for trying to administer flu shots to migrant kids who due to weakened bodies, stress and physical proximity to each other are prone to acquire contagious diseases. The current situation in the border has brought out the best and the worst in people, from amazing acts of compassion to the most xenophobic remarks that lack any kind of nuance. 

But among all stories of despair and death, perhaps the ones that affect us the most on an emotional level are the deaths of minors while on custody of United States authorities.  

A Guatemalan girl was seven, and she died of dehydration, exhaustion and shock while in custody of Border Patrol.

The authorities have not released the girl’s name, but we know she was trying to cross the Mexican border illegally with her father. The pair were caught along with a group of undocumented migrants in a remote spot of the New Mexico desert. She was taken into the custody of the Border Patrol, which informed of her death on Thursday.

The details of her death are harrowing. As reported by The Washington Post: “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”. 

While in custody things took a turn for the worse, her already dire condition quickly deteriorated and it is unclear whether she was given water or food.

Yes, migrants arrive to the United States in terrible physical condition after crossing the desert in possibly the worst conditions anyone could imagine. They are subject to heat, unbelievable emotional distress, wildlife threats and lack of food and water. But the humane thing to do, and not just humane but also ethical and ascribed to international law, is to provide medical care to those detained.

The Washington Post report informs: “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.” As The Washington Post argues, this could lead to further scrutiny to the processes through which migrants are processed and their health assessed. 

The child was transported by helicopter to a hospital in El Paso, Texas.

However, it was too late: less than 24 hours after arriving to El Paso. The father remains in El Paso with Guatemalan consular authorities. According to The Washington Post, Border Patrol is investigating the circumstances in which the little girl died, as “Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody, and it wasn’t immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam before the onset of seizures.”

The influx of migrants seems to have outgrown the capacity of US authorities and the sociopolitical situation in Latin America, and particularly in Central America, has led to recent episodes of violence and strife that has increased the number of those who wish to find survival (not even a better life, but the possibility to remain alive) in the United States. 

Activists are furious over how long it took for authorities to release information on the case.

Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement: “The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths.”

The autopsy results won’t be available for several days, but facts lead to dehydration, septic shock and fever. And it seems that we will sadly have more cases like this, as apprehensions have registered record numbers in recent months. As WP reports: “In November, Border Patrol agents apprehended a record 25,172 “family unit members” on the southwest border.” There is indeed a humanitarian crisis at hand.

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Melania Trump Caught on Tape Discussing Child Border Separation Policy: ‘Give Me a F—–g Break’

Things That Matter

Melania Trump Caught on Tape Discussing Child Border Separation Policy: ‘Give Me a F—–g Break’

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It looks like the Melania Trump isn’t quite as stoic as everyone thinks she is. The First Lady was caught on tape discussing immigration policy, her negative news media coverage and…Christmas decorations.

The audio recording was captured by Mrs. Trump’s former friend and senior advisor, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff in July of 2018. Winston Wolkoff is currently promoting a book about her friendship with Mrs. Trump called, ‘Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady’.

The conversation about Trump’s border policy appears to have been sparked by Mrs. Trump and Winston Wolkoff’s discussion of Melania’s Christmas duties and the media’s reaction.

“I’m working like a – my ass off at Christmas stuff that, you know, who gives a f* about Christmas stuff and decoration?…And I say that I’m working on Christmas planning for the Christmas,” she says, her tone audibly frustrated.

She then launches into a sarcastic-sounding imitation of her critics: “And they said, ‘Ooh what about the children, that they were separated?’ Give me a f—–g break.”

The recording reveals a radically different portrait of Melania Trump than the public is used to seeing. Contrary to her public persona as unflappable and detached, this Melania appears to resent being called “complicit” and has frustrations over of influence over government policy–specifically over Trump’s controversial policy of child separation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him. I support him. I don’t say enough. I don’t do enough,” she laments to her friend.

In the recorded conversation, the First Lady discusses her thoughts about undocumented immigrants and forced child separation at the border at length.

When talking about the refuge women who say they are running from gang violence, Mrs. Trump expressed her skepticism at the veracity of their claims.

“Some of them are using the lines [that they’re running from gang members]. They’re kind of…not ‘professional’, but they’re teached [sic] by other people what to say to come over…” she said. “Because, you know, they could easily stay in Mexico. But they don’t want to stay in Mexico because Mexico doesn’t take care of them same as America does.”

She also explains that she “was trying to get the kid reunited with the Mom” at the border, but she “did not have a chance” because the process “needs to go through the law.”

She also expressed frustration at what she believes is unfair treatment of her by the news media.

Talking about her June 2018 visit to a border detention facility in Texas: “They [mainstream media] will not do the story. We put it out. They would not do the story. You would not believe it,” she tells her friend. “They would not do the story because they are against us because they are liberal media. Yeah, if I go to Fox, they will do the story. I don’t want to go to Fox.”

Some Americans are pointing out the media’s double-standards for Mrs. Trump compared to former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Many are concerned with Melania Trump’s lack of empathy when it comes to the situation of children being separated from their parents at the border.

One thing is for certain–this debacle appears to be the least of the Trumps’ worries right now.

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Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

Things That Matter

Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

On Friday, previously undisclosed court documents revealed that almost 9,000 unaccompanied migrant children seeking refuge were denied access to the U.S. and subsequently expelled from U.S. soil. None of these children were given a chance in court.

According to reporting done by CBS News, U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials have “suspended humanitarian protections” for most migrants crossing the border, on the grounds that “public health law overrides asylum, immigration and anti-trafficking safeguards” in the era of COVID-19.

CBS news made the shocking discovery when investigating the problematic and increased practice of holding and detaining minors in unregulated, privately contracted hotel rooms.

The government is arguing that the practice is keeping the American public safe from possibly COVID-19 exposure from unauthorized migrants.

“What we’re trying to do…is remove all individuals, regardless of whether they’re children — minors — or they’re adults,” Customs and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan said in an August media briefing.

He continued: “We’re trying to remove [the migrants] as fast as we can, to not put them in our congregate settings, to not put them into our system, to not have them remain in the United States for a long period of time, therefore increasing the exposure risk of everybody they come in contact with.”

via Getty Images

But critics are claiming that the Trump Administration is using COVID-19 as an excuse to unlawfully expel as many migrants as possible–regardless of their age.

On Friday, federal Judge Dolly M. Gee ordered the administration to put an end to the practice of detaining children in hotel rooms, saying that hotels do not “adequately account for the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors in detention”. She asked the government to put an end to the practice by September 15th.

It is in the court documents regarding the above case that 8,800 expelled migrant children number was revealed.

“The numbers are stunning,” said executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, Lindsay Toczylowski, to CBS News. “…To find out that our government has literally taken children who are seeking protection and sent them back to the very places they fled in such high numbers really took my breath away.”

via Getty Images

US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz has defended the unsafe hotel detainment and speedy expulsion of migrant children, saying that stopping the practice would increase risk of exposure to health and customs officials alike.

But even if the practice comes to an end, the staggering number of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children left to their own devices is sitting heavy on the soul of advocates and activists.

“It’s just completely contrary, not only to all child protection norms and standards, but also just completely contrary to our values as a nation around protecting the most vulnerable,” said vice president for international programs at Kids in Need of Defense Lisa Frydman to CNN. “Because we are just wholesale shipping them out without making sure that it’s safe for them to go.”

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