A 1o-year-old girl from El Salvador died in September after being detained at the border – the sixth child to die in the past year
Just days after the fifth child migrant died this year after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that a sixth minor died in September, a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador.
According to HHS, the unidentified girl had been in U.S. custody beginning in March 2018, and passed away at a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 29. Spokesman Mark Weber said that she suffered from poor health and had a history of congenital heart defects.
Weber said that she underwent a surgery that left her in a comatose state. She was then brought to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for palliative care before being transferred to Omaha “to be closer to family.” She died at Children’s Hospital of Omaha of fever and respiratory distress.
It’s unclear where she crossed the border, but she entered an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in San Antonio last spring. It’s also unclear whether she was accompanied by other family members or adults, although we do know that HHS is responsible for providing medical care to children who are unaccompanied.
Her death hadn’t been officially reported until yesterday, though we don’t know why.
Many politicians are speaking out about this and the other five deaths, saying that not only is it unacceptable for so many to die, but that the administration continues to cover up facts.
“I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress,” said Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “And if that’s the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall.”
Earlier this week, Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who crossed into Texas without his parents, died at a Border Patrol station, likely of the flu. He had been in custody for days longer than the time allowed by federal law.
Then earlier this month, a 2.5-year-old Guatemalan child died of pneumonia after weeks in the hospital, after the toddler’s family was detained at the El Paso border. In April, 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez of Guatemala died of a brain infection while in HHS custody. In December, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of a bacterial infection just a day after she and her father were apprehended on the border while fleeing Guatemala. And on Christmas Eve, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo of Guatemala died at the New Mexico border hours after being sent home from the doctor for a high fever and cold symptoms.
“Make no mistake. This is a pattern of death,” said Castro.
These deaths come after the Trump administration has been under fire for its treatment of migrant children – treatment that includes the separation of families, overcrowded facilities, sex abuse, and nights without food or shelter. The administration hasn’t released a statement on the climbing numbers of dead migrant children.