US border authorities released a statement Thursday disclosing that the eight-year-old girl who died while in their custody last month was denied attention or review from medical staff.
Following the death of the young migrant, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched an internal investigation consistent with agency policy for deaths that occur in border custody. According to the statement, the investigation is being conducted primarily via interviews with CBP staff, because the facility’s camera system was not functioning when the young child’s family was in custody.
The statement reveals that in the four days the young migrant was in custody, medical staff contracted by CBP had about nine encounters with the child who reported experiencing fever, pain and other flu-like symptoms. The child’s fever peaked at 104.9 degrees Fahrenheit. While the medical staff gave her fever-reducing medications, cold showers and ice packs, they refused to transfer her to a hospital. The child’s mother requested that they transfer her child multiple times.
The statement explains that on the child’s fourth day in custody, she reported experiencing a stomachache, nausea and difficulty breathing. The nurse practitioner treating the young migrant agreed to administer a tablet of the child’s prescription medication the family had traveled with, but declined to review her medical file, which included important information about her history of sickle cell anemia and congenital heart disease. A few hours later, the child had a seizure and became unresponsive, at which point emergency medical services were requested. The young migrant was then transported to a nearby medical center where she was declared deceased.
According to the statement, CBP failed to comply with HR 1158 by failing to notify OPR of the camera system outage. Further, the medical staff contracted by CBP did not consult with any on-call physicians about the child’s condition and failed to document most of their interventions and encounters with the child.
OPR’s investigation into the young migrant’s death is ongoing. Her death came days after the expiration of Title 42, a deportation policy enacted under the Trump administration.