May 27, 2019
CBS News just reported that six migrant children have died in the past eight months, either in U.S. immigration custody or soon after release. Before that, one child had died in custody since 2010.
The federal government just confirmed that a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died back on September 29 at a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
Five children from Guatemala have died: Jakelin, age 7, died Dec. 8; Filipe, age 8, died Dec. 24; Juan, age 16, died April 30; Wilmer, age 2, died May 14. All died at Texas hospitals — getting care too late. Carlos, age 16, was found dead on May 20 in detention in Texas.
A pediatrician explained that identifying signs that a child is in danger requires medical skill. “Kids are robust: They hang on to the last minute. And then ... they just fall off a cliff. They can look pretty OK, and then suddenly they’re not.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no child be placed in detention, as it is unsafe.
Rural border patrol stations, where these children are being detained, are bare-bones. Spanish-speaking migrants call them hieleras (ice boxes) for year-round frigid temperatures and perreras (dog kennels) for their cramped conditions and horrible food.
An advocate active for decades explained these “facilities” are intentionally nasty and ugly. “They’re designed to be problematic and not safe,” to deter border crossing.
While the number of migrants is down today compared to the era of the 2000s, most migrants then were single men and today many are families with children. The detainees are legal immigrants, seeking political asylum from gang violence in Central America. Federal rules say kids must be placed at a stable facility within 72 hours. But when recent deaths were looked at, children were held much longer.
Kids are dying at the border, ground up by a detention system unfit for dogs. This should have never happened in the first place, but it must end now!