Six Children Die in DHS Custody

Credit: Sasiistock

(Español) In the past eight months, six children have died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), ranging back to September of 2018. Prior these six deaths, no child had died under the supervision of CBP since 2010. The latest recently revealed by the agency was a 10-year old Salvadorian girl who passed away in September of 2018. The circumstances surrounding each of these deaths bear striking similarities: each of the children presented themselves at the southern border and were detained by CBP while asking for asylum and shortly after became ill and died due to complications. This comes amidst a surge of migrants, largely from Central America, presenting themselves at the border to ask for asylum, leading to border patrol stations along the border to become overcrowded and temporary shelters needing to be constructed. The following are the details regarding the known information of the six known deaths:

Unnamed girl, 10, El Salvador: She arrived at the border unaccompanied and with a history of congenital heart defects. After complications during surgery, she was left in a coma for several months. She passed away on September 29, 2018, after being moved to a hospital in Nebraska to be closer to family members in the U.S.

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez, 16, Guatemala: Hernandez was taken into custody along the Texas-Mexico border on May 13. Six days later, he was diagnosed with flu and moved to a different facility to contain the illness. On Monday, May 20, he was found unresponsive and declared dead. This death is under investigation as, under federal law, minors must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72-hours of detention.

Unnamed boy, 2 ½ , Guatemala: While an official cause of death was not announced, within a short time of being taken into custody at the border, the young boy was admitted into a local children’s hospital and presented with a high-fever and shortness of breath, dying shortly thereafter his admittance on April 3, 2019.

Juan de Leon Gutierrez, 16, Guatemala: After being detained, Gutierrez was transferred to a shelter on April 20, 2019, where he showed no signs of illness. A day later, he was sent to a hospital for fever, chills, and headaches. He was released 24-hours later. Becoming ill again shortly after, he returned to the hospital where he remained in the intensive care unit until his passing. Media reports claim the death was a result of complications with a brain hemorrhage but there is still no official cause of death.

Felipe Gomez Antonio, 8, Guatemala: Antonio passed away on December 24, 2018, after being in detention with his father. He was diagnosed with a common cold and fever but, again, there exists no official cause of death. After Antonio’s death, CBP began giving comprehensive medical exams to migrant children being detained.

Jakelin Caal, 7, Guatemala: After crossing the border on December 6, 2018, her and her father completed a days long journey through the desert. After being detained, she started vomiting and went into sepsis shock. She was treated by Emergency Medical Technicians but died, nonetheless. The official report states she passed away due to complications from septic shock which resulted in an infection and multiple organ failure.