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US CBP photo, May 2018

A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala died in a Border Patrol detention facility in Weslaco, Texas, yesterday, making him the fifth child to die after being scooped up by the Border Patrol since December. All the children who have died were from Guatemala, no doubt prompting Stephen Miller to begin work on a plan to increase deaths of Honduran and Salvadoran kids as well.

Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was apprehended May 13 among a larger group of migrants who had crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley, and died Monday morning. He had been held for nearly a week at a processing center in McAllen, Texas, the big warehouse where hundreds of people are held in cages. But he fell ill with the flu Sunday and was moved to a smaller facility to keep him from infecting other migrants. Monday morning, he was found "unresponsive" in his cell, an hour after a routine check found he was okay. Things happen, right?


The New York Times reports out the timeline following Carlos's May 13 arrest:

An official with Customs and Border Protection, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation into Carlos's death was in preliminary stages, told reporters that the boy did not show signs of illness in an initial medical screening on the day he was detained.

He was held in a processing center in the agency's Rio Grande Valley sector until Sunday, the official said. Early that morning, Carlos told agents at the facility he was not feeling well. A nurse practicitioner determined he had influenza and recommended he receive doses of Tamiflu. Border Patrol agents bought the medicine from a nearby pharmacy.

Later Sunday, Carlos was moved to a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, about 20 miles away, where he could be separated, the official said. He was found dead on Monday morning, an hour after a welfare check.

Officials said Carlos was given a diagnosis of Influenza A, but it was not clear if he was specifically tested for the illness, and officials did not respond to questions for clarification.

Here's a non-trivial detail: Under federal regulations, unaccompanied minors aren't supposed to be held more that three days by the Border Patrol before they're moved into the system of shelters operated by Health and Human Services. Carlos was held by CBP for twice that long, and was waiting to go to a shelter when he died. He wasn't sent to a hospital, and it's not clear how much medical supervision he received after the diagnosis and prescription on Sunday.

CBS News reports that the process of moving Carlos to a shelter only got started last Thursday, three days after his arrest -- the day he should have been out of CBP custody. He was finally allowed to call relatives already in the US on the same day.

According to the Associated Press, HHS spokesperson Mark Weber didn't have any explanation for the delay, but instead offered some nice bland buzzwords, saying that a "minority of cases exceeding 72 hours have generally involved exceptional circumstances." What were those circumstances? Dunno, but they were exceptional, you bet -- just like all the many other examples of undocumented kids being held for days by the CBP or languishing for months in HHS baby jails. The AP also reports that Carlos was supposed to be transferred Monday to Southwest Key Casa Padre, that huge baby jail in a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, but he inconveniently died.

Thank heavens, Donald Trump knows exactly who's to blame for Carlos's death:

Asked about the death, Trump blamed Democrats, saying they are refusing to approve changes that could improve the system.

"The Democrats are really making it very, very dangerous for people by not approving simple quick 15 minutes legislation, we could have it all worked out," Trump said.

See, if only we had WALL (and maybe let troops shoot people from it? Just joking, only serious), or could deport asylum-seekers a lot faster, then Carlos could have died elsewhere and would not have been America's problem.

In December, two Guatemalan children, aged seven and eight, died in CBP custody and Kirstjen Nielsen blamed their parents while Donald Trump blamed Democrats. In addition to Carlos, two additional minors died within the last month: a toddler who was arrested with his mother in April died May 14 after weeks in a hospital, apparently of pneumonia (hey, not in custody, so it's nobody's fault!). And on April 30, another Guatemalan 16-year-old, Juan de León Gutiérrez, died after the HHS detention facility he was being held in sent him to a hospital, where he was treated and released. He had a brain infection.

Thank goodness the deaths in December have led the US immigration system to say it was revamping its medical supervision of migrant kids, or there'd be a lot more deaths in detention, so let's please look on the bright side here. We'll give the last word to Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Efrén Olivares, who told the AP:

If these were white children that were dying at this rate, people would be up in arms [...] We see this callous disregard for brown, Spanish-speaking children.

That depends, of course. You might have to also make sure the parents were Republicans before this administration thought it was a problem.

[AP / NYT / WaPo / CBS 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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