The Nation We Have Become: They Knew He Was Ill, Yet 16-Year-Old Immigrant Boy Died Alone, Next To Border Facility Toilet

Remember Carlos. Remember Jakelin. Remember Felipe. Remember Wilmer. Remember Juan. Remember Darlyn. Remember Mariee.

By Gabe Ortiz
The Daily Kos (7/25/19)

Sixteen-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez died next to a toilet, alone, in an immigration detention cell. In video reviewed as part of his autopsy, Texas Monthlyreports, the boy “is seen lying on the floor, vomiting on the floor, and walks over to the commode, where he sits and later lies back and expires.” His May death makes him the fifth child to die after being taken into U.S. custody since December.

Carlos crossed the border on May 13 and had been detained at the Rio Grande Valley Sector’s Central Processing Center for nearly a week—in violation of the 72-hour limit imposed by law—when he began to feel sick. ”That day, a nurse practitioner found that he had a 103-degree fever, and he tested positive for the flu. He was prescribed Tamiflu and transferred to the Border Patrol station at Weslaco. Hernandez died the next morning,” when he was found by officers.

These children came to the U.S. for safety and new lives—some coming here all by themselves—and our nation failed to provide them safety, dignity, or compassion. 

His autopsy concluded that he “succumbed to the flu, complicated by pneumonia and sepsis, on or near the toilet of his South Texas Border Patrol cell.” Texas Monthly notes that Border Patrol apparently never made an effort to hospitalize the boy when he became sick, in fact moving him to Weslaco even though a bed had reportedly been designated for him by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, where kids are supposed to be transferred from Border Patrol custody.

The deaths of migrant children after being taken into U.S. custody have been unprecedented, because “before December, no child had died in Border Patrol custody in a decade.” Seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin’s autopsy found that she died of streptococcal sepsis in December. That same month, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of the flu and “a rapid, progressive infection that led to organ failure,” his autopsy report said.

In May, Wilmer Josue Ramirez Vasquez had been held in Border Patrol custody for several days but became so sick he had to be hospitalized, Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson wrote at the time, eventually dying in the hospital from “multiple intestinal and respiratory infectious diseases.” According to an El Paso County medical examiner’s office report, Wilmer had influenza, parasites, and E. coli bacteria. He was just two and a half years old.

But migrant children have also died outside of Border Patrol custody. In April, 16-year-old Juan de León Gutiérrez became sick while in ORR custody after crossing to the U.S. alone. He “was treated for several days at a Corpus Christi hospital before he died,” Texas Monthly said. “The Nueces County medical examiner said no autopsy was performed because Gutierrez was not in custody at the time of his death and died of natural causes.”

Ten-year-old Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle …

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  • Central American Migrant Crisis Is Manufactured By US Gun Industry: “We all have blood on our hands.” — “In Honduras, a 1 percent increase in homicides drives up migration by 120 percent.” Each month tens of thousands of migrants cross our southern border. They’re “seeking a better life”…right? Isn’t that why families leave loved ones to trek vast distances facing untold dangers? Certainly, it’s the story that fits our cherished image of our nation as a land of opportunity like none other. Recently, though, I felt ashamed that I—someone who wants to believe she’s well informed—had overlooked a key piece of my own responsibility, or, more precisely, my own and my nation’s culpability. Certainly, I’d long been aware of numerous US policies that have long hindered positive development in the region to our south. … Read the Rest

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