16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill on May 19 when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy. A nurse practitioner at the Border Patrol processing center in McAllen diagnosed him with the flu and measured his fever at 103 degrees, and said that he should be checked again in two hours and taken to the emergency room if his condition worsened. Instead, so the flu didn’t spread through the overcrowded detention facility, CBP officers moved him to the Weslaco facility, where he did not see another medical person.
The next morning Carlos was found dead on the floor of his cell by his cellmate.
One young boy’s life was lost, and another’s was traumatized. Video of the scenario of events leading to Carlos’ death contradicts the written reports of the Border Patrol officers. Video shows Carlos obviously in pain on the floor of his cell for over 25 minutes, staggering to the toilet and finally collapsing on the cell floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours. Dr. Judy Melinek, a San Francisco-based forensic pathologist who reviewed records of Carlos’ death at the request of ProPublica who obtained the video and records through Texas open records laws, said:
“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal. No one should die this way: vomiting, with a fever and without the comfort of a caregiver.”
Carlos was the sixth migrant child to die after being detained while entering the U.S. in under a year, and the fifth child to die after arriving at the U.S. border from Guatemala since December. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is investigating the circumstances of Carlos’ death but has not released any findings yet. Carlos’ autopsy confirmed he died of influenza A, which Border Patrol typically treats with Tamiflu.
Time and time again, poor medical conditions have compromised the health of immigrant children in CBP custody, says the American Immigration Lawyers Association in a complaint AILA filed in September against DHS.
Mario Godoy and the other experienced immigration attorneys at the Godoy Law Office can assess your situation and application status. With experience in many different types of immigration cases and understanding of the impact of new immigration regulations, it can be beneficial for you to contact an immigration lawyer today. Please call us at 855-554-6369.