The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday the death of a sixth migrant child in U.S. custody, a young girl, who's death had gone previously unreported.
5th Migrant Minor Dies While in US Custody
The young girl, 10, was from El Salvador and had been detained by United States Border Patrol, an organization that has come under fire of late after the deaths of five other children, either while under their care or shortly after having been released.
A spokesman for the department, Mark Weber, provided few details except to confirm that she had been under the care of HHS since March of 2018 and died later that year on Sep. 29. The official reported that the young girl was “medically fragile” and had congenital heart defects.
"Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona, for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital," Weber said. "On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children's Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress."
On Monday, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy named Carlos Hernandez died while under the care of Customs and Border Patrol. According to CBS News, the boy was diagnosed with Influenza A virus.
The Trump administration has been under fire for its treatment of migrants. From October 2018 to April 2019, nearly 293,000 people traveling as families were apprehended at the southern U.S. border — a nearly four-fold jump over the same time frame the previous year.
Immigrant advocates say the administration’s policies, including making it more difficult for migrants to seek asylum at official ports of entry, contribute to making their journeys more arduous and drive migrants to seek out remote border outposts badly equipped to care for children.
Julie Linton, co-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Immigrant Health Special Interest Group, said she was concerned about sick children potentially being housed in bare-bones border protection facilities for extended periods of time.
“There certainly need to be conditions that do not include lying on a mat with a Mylar blanket on a floor that is cold, and cage-like fencing that extends to the ceiling,” she said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “We absolutely need pediatric health experts at the border.”