An undocumented migrant from Mexico died in Border Patrol custody Monday after crossing the border into Texas.
A statement issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the 45-year-old man was apprehended Feb. 2 for illegal reentry. He was encountered by the Roma Texas Police Department and after he requested medical help, he was taken to Mission Regional Medical Center by the Starr County Emergency Medical Services. He was cleared to travel by the medical center and was returned to Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station.
However, the next day, after a welfare check, he requested medical attention and was once again transported. This time, he was taken to the McAllen Medical Center where he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure. The man stayed at the McAllen Medical Center till Monday, which was when he died at around 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. EST) The official cause of death was unknown but the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility instigated a review. It also notified the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, as well as the Mexican government.
Andrew Meehan, Assistant Commissioner for the Public Affairs, said, “The loss of life is tragic. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones. CBP remains committed to ensuring the safe and humane treatment of those within the case of our custody. “
While the CBP hasn’t released the identity of the man, it will release more details when appropriate, and it will also ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances, the statement said.
This is the third migrant death since December after two children from Guatemala died in two separate incidents after crossing the U.S. border.
Felipe Gomez, an 8-year-old boy from Guatemala suffered from cough, vomiting and fever before he died in U.S. custody at a hospital in New Mexico. He was initially diagnosed with a cold and fever and was prescribed amoxicilli and ibuprofen, he was held 90 minutes under observation and was released the same day. The same evening, he was sent back to the hospital with nausea and vomiting where he died on Christmas Eve.
On Dec. 8, 2018, Jakelin died after enduring a grueling trip through the desert with her father and 161 other migrants who crossed the New Mexico border illegally. Jakelin and her father were supposed to travel to a Border Patrol station by bus in New Mexico when her father informed Border Patrol agents that she was sick. She was later taken to a children’s hospital in El Paso where she died.
The death of the two children prompted the CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to issue new guidelines requiring agents to inform the CBP leadership, Congress and the public faster about the death of people in custody.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ordered a more vigorous medical screening of children in custody. She also said she would request an investigation in the “uptick in sick children crossing our borders” while announcing plans to review the facilities where migrant children were housed. However, there was no mention of healthcare for adults.
An undocumented Mexican immigrant died Monday while in Border Patrol custody, making it the third migrant death since December. This is a representational image of a metal fence with a U.S. Border Patrol sign at the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Nogales, Arizona, Feb. 9, 2019. Photo: ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP/Getty Images
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