The death of Carlos Hernandez Vazquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan teenager, in a Border Patrol shelter in Texas on Monday is the third death of a child in Customs and Border Protection custody in six months.
Before December 2018, no children had died in CBP custody in a decade.
The death of Hernandez Vazquez — and of two other minors, including a toddler, who have died in recent weeks after being apprehended by Border Patrol agents but who were released from CBP custody before their deaths — has renewed national attention and outrage from December, when two young children died in CBP custody in three weeks.
The details of the cases have raised some specific questions about CBP practices. Hernandez Vazquez, for example, was in Border Patrol custody for more than six days; the standard, except in emergency situations, is for CBP to hold migrants for no more than 72 hours before transferring them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which responsible for migrant children who come to the US without a parent.
But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the government is in the midst of a broader public health crisis regarding migrants, especially children, in its care. The processing center in the Rio Grande Valley where Hernandez Vazquez had been held is in the midst of an apparent flu outbreak; on Tuesday night, the government announced it would stop sending migrants there, essentially quarantining it. In recent weeks, pictures of children being held outside — having to sleep on the ground — have raised alarms, as temperatures climb into summer.
It’s also worth remembering that Trump became the nominee because he would do stuff like this, not in spite of it.