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Fifth migrant child dies after detention by US border patrol since December

The teen has been identified by US Customs and Border Protection as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez.

US border patrol securing the Mexico-United States border in October 2017
US border patrol securing the Mexico-United States border in October 2017
Image: DPA/PA Images

A 16-YEAR-OLD Guatemalan has died at a border patrol station in Texas, the US government has said.

This is the fifth death of a migrant child apprehended by border agents since December. 

The teenager has been identified by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez.

The Border Patrol apprehended the teenager in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley on 13 May, according to CBP.

He was found to be unresponsive during a welfare check this morning.

Carlos was detained for six days at the Border Patrol’s processing center in McAllen, Texas, despite federal law and CBP’s guidelines generally requiring the transfer of an unaccompanied youth within three days to a facility operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The agency said Carlos was “due for placement” in an HHS facility at the time of his death.

CBP said Carlos reported early yesterday morning that he was not feeling well and diagnosed with the flu.

He was prescribed the medicine Tamiflu, then transferred later yesterday to the Border Patrol station at Weslaco, Texas, to prevent his flu from spreading to other detainees.

He was not hospitalised.

Carlos had last been checked an hour before he was found unresponsive, an agency official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity said.

The FBI is now investigating the case.

Other deaths

The Border Patrol has faced months of scrutiny over its care of children it apprehends at the border.

A two-year-old child died last week after he and his mother were detained by the Border Patrol. The agency says it took the child to the hospital the same day the mother reported he was sick, and he was hospitalised for several weeks.

On 30 April, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died after officials at an HHS detention facility noticed that he was sick. He was hospitalised in intensive care for several days before his death.

After the deaths of two children ages 7 and 8 in December, the Department of Homeland Security ordered medical checks of all children in its custody and expanded medical screenings.

John Sanders, the acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, said in a statement that his agency was “saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family”.

“CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody,” Sanders said.

Includes reporting by Associated Press

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