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U.S. Agency Calls Death Of Girl, 8, At Border 'Unacceptable Tragedy'

Medical officials at a Border Patrol facility in Texas where an 8-year-old Panamanian girl died last month denied several requests for an ambulance by the girl’s mother, says U.S. Customs and Border Protection. (CBP). The girl had arrived at the station in Harlingen, Tex., on May 14 with her mother, where she reported feeling flulike symptoms and pain, CBP said. At no point during her stay in custody did medical staff treating her consult with on-call doctors, including an on-call pediatrician, and they didn’t document her medical visits or the course of treatment. CBP said the girl’s mother requested an ambulance three or four times, reports the Wall Street Journal. The medical staff didn’t appear to be aware that the girl had suffered from sickle-cell anemia and had a history of congenital heart disease, the agency said. A camera system meant to record such incidents was broken.

The girl ran a fever of 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit on May 16, the day before her death. She was being treated by a nurse practitioner with Tamiflu, a fever-reducing medication and ice packs. “Despite the girl’s condition, her mother’s concerns, and the series of treatments required to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care,” CBP said. “The recent in-custody death of an eight-year-old child in our custody ... was a deeply upsetting and unacceptable tragedy,” said Troy Miller, acting CBP commissioner. “We can—and we will—do better to ensure this never happens again.” Deaths of children in U.S. immigration custody are relatively rare, and have occurred when facilities have become dangerously overcrowded. During one six-month stretch in 2018 and 2019, four children died in U.S. custody, prompting inquiries in Congress.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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