A 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died while in U.S. custody last September, according to CBS. The girl is the sixth migrant child who has died after being detained by the U.S. since last autumn. Her death had not been previously reported.
Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber told CBS the the girl had a history of heart defects and entered a Office of Refugee Resettlement facility in San Antonio, TX last March in a “medically fragile” condition.
“Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital,” Weber told CBS. “On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children’s Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress.”
The girl’s name and any other details about her are unknown.
It’s not clear why this news wasn’t made public earlier. The Consulate General of El Salvador, Manuel Castillo, told CBS that he had not been aware of the child’s death. He had not spoken to the family, and hoped the news report would help him locate them. Castillo said he has received calls from local residents who said “We can’t let this happen again.”
Lawmakers are now accusing the administration of a cover up.
“I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress,” Rep. Joaquin Castro told CBS. “And if that’s the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall.”
“We’re going to make immediate inquires to HHS to find out what happen to this young girl,” Castro added.
It’s not required that officials inform Congress or the public about such deaths, only that they inform local authorities and make an internal report.
Three other migrant children have died in U.S. custody in the last month alone. The most recent of these was this Monday, when a 16-year-old boy from Guatemala died at a Border Patrol facility in Weslaco, TX. The boy has been identified as Carlos Hernandez Vásquez. He was apparently bought to the station after he told officials at the McAllen, TX immigration processing facility that he felt ill.
Sickness was apparently widespread in the McAllen facility earlier the week. Border Patrol temporarily suspended processing there after it “identified a large number of subjects in custody with high fevers whom are also displaying signs of a flu-related illness.”
On April 30th, another 16-year-old boy from Guatemala, Juan de León Gutiérrez, died in Texas after spending several days in hospitals. He was originally sent to Southwest Key Casa Padre in Brownsville, TX.
On May 15th, a 2 and a half year old child died after they were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, TX in April.