16-year-old dies at Border Patrol Station, is 5th Minor to Die in U.S. Custody in 6 Months

A 16-year-old boy diagnosed with the flu died Monday after he was found unresponsive inside a Border Patrol holding area in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.

The boy became the fifth Guatemalan minor to die after being apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border since December.

The border agency identified the teenager as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez. He had crossed into the United States illegally on May 13 with a group of more than 70 other migrants near Hidalgo, Texas. 

The teenager was on his way to reunite with his family members already living in the United States, according to the Guatemalan government.

Hernandez Vasquez had spent six days in Border Patrol custody at the central processing facility in McAllen, Texas. In the early hours of Sunday morning, he “self-reported” to staff at the facility that he was not feeling well, a CBP official said in a background call with reporters.

A contracted nurse practitioner assessed him and determined that the teenager had Influenza A. As part of the treatment, they prescribed him Tamiflu, the official said. 

Following his diagnosis, at around midday on Sunday, border agents decided to transport Hernandez Vasquez to the Weslaco Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas, to “segregate” him from other migrants and have him continue his treatement, CBP said. 

The Guatemalan teenager spent 17 hours to 18 hours at the Weslaco station, during which agents conducted several welfare checks, according to CBP. The final one was an hour before agents found him unresponsive in the temporary holding room inside the station. 

Medical staff at the station were unable to revive him, CBP said. Investigators are looking into the cause of death.

“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,” CBP Acting Commissioner John Sanders said. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”

By Rafael carranza for AZ CENTRAL

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