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US HHS photo, shelter in Brownsville, Texas

The US Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the nation's immigration baby jails, acknowledged last night that the true number of kids who've died in custody in the last year isn't five, as we all thought after the latest death Monday. No, it's six -- that we know of. It turns out that on September 29, 2018, a 10-year-old Salvadoran girl also died, in a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, after being treated in several other hospitals as well. That makes the unnamed girl the first in the string of deaths of migrant children -- and the first child to die in immigration custody since 2010. We eagerly await the White House proclamation that Democrats' refusal to build WALL killed her.


CBS News broke the story yesterday evening.

Mark Weber, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a statement to CBS News that the girl had a history of congenital heart defects. Weber said when she entered the care of an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facility in San Antonio, Texas, on March 4, 2018, she was in a "medically fragile" state.

"Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital," Weber said. "On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children's Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress."

Well then, that's hardly anyone's "fault," now is it? Please just settle down, nothing could have been done, and it's perfectly normal that we're only learning about it nearly eight months after the fact.

Astonishingly, the news of the girl's death also came as a complete surprise to Manuel Castillo, the Salvadoran Consul in Aurora, Colorado, says CBS News:

Castillo said the office was caught off guard by the news, and was hoping CBS News report would help him track down the family. Castillo said concerned local residents called him, saying, "We can't let this happen again."

There was no requirement under the law for HHS to make the death public, however, so why not keep it quiet? After the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal in early December, US Customs and Border Protection adopted rules requiring notification of Congress within 24 hours of deaths in CBP/border patrol custody, but that's a whole 'nother federal agency, under Homeland Security. (As we have said before, we're certain Team Trump exploits those jurisdictional niceties to bamboozle Americans.) Even now, HHS rules only require the notification of higher-ups in the agency, not Congress. As for the public, we can just fuck right off because it's none of our beeswax:

When asked by CNN why HHS did not announce the death of the 10-year-old girl at the time, Weber said they had prepared a statement at the time of her death but reporting requirements include notifying "appropriate officials" and "media is not part of the list."

All of this is perfectly normal. Gotta respect the families' privacy above all else. Particularly if ICE is trying to deport 'em. Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), is quite certain the lack of information on the little girl's death was deliberate:

"I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress," Castro said. "And if that's the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall."

Castro, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he is going to demand more information from the government about the girl.

"We're going to make immediate inquires to HHS to find out what happen to this young girl," Castro said.

In addition to this new information on the beginning of this horrible string of deaths, we also learned this week that the Border Patrol temporarily froze admissions of detainees at its huge warehouse facility in McAllen, Texas, Tuesday, following an outbreak of a "flu-related illness" that sickened 32 detainees. That's the same facility where 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vazquez was held -- for longer than the maximum legal 72 hours -- before he died Monday at another facility where he'd been placed in isolation. Remember, folks, a CBO source told the New York Times that when Carlos was first examined on his arrival in McAllen, he had no symptoms, and only complained of feeling sick the day before he died. There are several investigations into Carlos's death, and Congress should demand to know whether he was sick when he got to McAllen, or died because CBP isn't sufficiently controlling infections.

Further, the Intercept yesterday released a major investigative report, in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, on the abuse of solitary confinement of migrants in US detention facilities. It's worth noting, if anyone cares (no one in power does), that these detainees aren't being held for crimes -- they're being held under civil immigration and deportation statutes. The report finds that immigrants are regularly placed in isolation for minor infractions, or after they've been attacked by others, or even because they were inconveniently disabled, gay, or mentally ill -- a particularly bad practice since isolation often makes their condition worse, leading to suicides and attempted suicides. But fuck their human rights, because America is Great Again.

Finally, it's worth noting that congressional Republicans are finally outraged about the deaths of immigrant children. Sort of. They were very angry yesterday about a question Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Illinois) asked acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, because her question could imply the government intended for children to die. Underwood said,

Congress has been more than willing to provide resources and to work with you, Mr. Secretary, to address the security and humanitarian concerns and, at this point, with five children dead and 5,000 separated from their families, this is intentional. It's a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it's cruel and inhumane.

Mind you, Underwood clearly meant "this is intentional" to apply to the shoddy treatment of migrants overall (particularly the insistence that they all be locked up), but oh heavens, what a terrible slur. Underwood clarified, "I did not say it was murder," and said she meant the overall extreme policy, but Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee forced a vote and had her remarks stricken from the record. Despite the Democratic majority, 10 Dems were absent for the vote, so the administration's honor remains pure. It sure is good to see Republicans care about something.

[CBS News / CNN / HHS / NPR / Intercept / NBC News]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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