A 16-year-old minor from Guatemala died Monday at the Weslaco Station in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector. He is the fifth migrant child to die after being detained at the border since December, all of whom were from Guatemala.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the boy was processed for “illegal entry” on May 13 near Hidalgo, Texas, before being transferred to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station Sunday. He was found unresponsive in the morning after a welfare check. The cause of death is unknown and both the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General and the Guatemalan government have been notified.
“The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders said in a statement. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”
Monday’s death is the second of a minor in CBP custody in the past week. On May 15, a 2½-year-old Guatemalan boy died in El Paso, Texas, after several nights in the hospital. It is believed he contracted some form of pneumonia. CBP apprehended the boy and his mother in early April near the Paso del Norte International Bridge.
Another Guatemalan teen died federal government custody on Tuesday after spending several days in intensive care at a hospital in Texas. His cause of death has also yet to be determined, but according to BuzzFeed News, which first reported the boy’s death, the boy sought treatment for frequent headaches. The Guatemalan consulate told the outlet that the 16-year-old was admitted to the hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, with a severe infection in his frontal lobe. He underwent surgery to reduce pressure in his head and passed away after seven days in intensive care.
CBP stations have long been criticized for their lack of medical care. Migrants have nicknamed the facilities “hieleras,” or iceboxes, because of their frigid temperatures that often worsen diseases like pneumonia. After a visit to the border, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) described the stations and those working there as “unprepared, untrained and underequipped in dealing with the humanitarian needs of families.”