The teen who was found dead in a Customs and Border Protection cell has been identified as Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez. The boy—the fifth child to die after being taken into U.S. custody since December—came here alone, a Guatemalan official said, and had been hoping to reunite with family. He was just 16.
Carlos crossed the border on May 13, a Monday, but was detained at the Rio Grande Valley Sector's Central Processing Center for days, until Sunday. “Border Patrol can legally hold unaccompanied minors for up to 72 hours,” BuzzFeed News reports. It was on that Sunday that the boy complained that he wasn’t feeling well. “A nurse practitioner determined he had influenza and recommended he receive doses of Tamiflu,” the New York Times reported. “Border Patrol agents bought the medicine from a nearby pharmacy.”
Carlos was then moved to a second location, even though a bed had reportedly been designated for him by the Office of Refugee Resettlement on that same day. He would be found dead the next morning during a welfare check. “Officials refused to say if Carlos was alone in the holding cell, or if anyone was with him when he died, citing open investigations by the agency and the F.B.I.” It’s very likely that if the boy had been separated from others due to illness, he did die alone.
“Before last year,” The Border Network for Human Rights said in a statement, “it had been more than a decade since a child died in the custody of federal immigration agents.” But the Trump administration has now seen two children die within the span of a week after being taken into U.S. custody. The ongoing deaths of children in federal immigration custody is unprecedented, and it is a national emergency.
"The gross inadequacy of the so-called ‘welfare checks’ is patently obvious, and now five children have lost their lives as the price,” said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. “I want to see specific plans from the administration to provide real medical checks, including checking vitals, on every child who comes into our government’s custody. We need urgency, and we need answers, not excuses.”
And accountability. Five children have now died after being taken into federal immigration custody, and we haven’t, at the very least, even seen one resignation? Not only that, the administration is demanding more funding to detain more people? “As much as we demand change from our government,” The Border Network for Human Rights continued, “we must look within ourselves about what the deaths of these children mean about us. How many more children will we let die?”
Her name was Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin. His name was Felipe Gómez Alonzo. His name was Juan de León Gutiérrez. His name was Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez. One child’s name we don’t even know.
Comments are closed on this story.