NEW MEXICO: A 16-year-old unaccompanied Guatemalan migrant died in a Texas hospital while in the custody of the US government, officials said on Wednesday (May 1).
The boy died on Tuesday after “several days of intensive care” at a children’s hospital, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement without disclosing the hospital or its location.
The boy’s death follows those of two other Guatemalan migrant children in December and warnings from US officials that more tragedies were likely given the surge in migrants crossing the border, and serious illnesses encountered among them.
The teenager, who was not identified, was transferred on Apr 20 from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody to a shelter run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which houses migrant children, according to the statement.
“Upon arrival to the shelter the minor did not note any health concerns,” the statement said.
The next morning the boy “became noticeably ill including fever, chills and a headache,” according to the statement.
Shelter staff took the teen to a hospital emergency department that morning where he was treated and released to the shelter the same day, the statement said.
The boy’s health did not improve and the next day he was taken to another hospital emergency department by ambulance. Later that day he was transferred to a Texas children’s hospital’s intensive care unit where he stayed for several days before he died.
The boy’s brother and Guatemalan consular officials visited him while he was in hospital and his family in Guatemala was regularly advised of his condition, the statement said.
Opponents of US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including Democrats in Congress, have called for better medical screening in border facilities to detect such cases sooner and prevent deaths.
After the December fatalities, the Trump administration announced policy changes to help prevent the deaths of children in custody, including more thorough medical checks
The cause of the teenager’s death is under review and the case will be subject to a full review, the statement said.