Rep. Joaquin Castro and Lawmakers Call for an Investigation Into the Deaths of Migrant Children

WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus demanded inquiries Tuesday by Congress and the Justice Department after the fifth death of a Guatemalan child in U.S. custody in six months.On Monday morning, 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died at the Weslaco Border Patrol Station, according to Customs and Border Protection.Carlos had been apprehended near Hidalgo on May 13, and held for six days -- twice as long as federal law generally permits -- before being transferred to the Weslaco facility. The transfer took place even though he had been diagnosed with the flu, the Associated Press reported.“This episode in our nation’s history will be looked upon as a stain on our nation,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, leading a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.Castro described conditions facing migrants at the border as a “pattern of death,” noting that before President Donald Trump’s administration, no child had died in CBP custody in more than a decade.Last week, a 2-year-old boy died in a hospital in El Paso from complications of pneumonia, the Guatemalan consul general in Del Rio told CNN.The deaths of two children in December sparked congressional hearings and new procedures for the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died from a bacterial infection in an El Paso hospital. Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, died weeks later of flu complicated by a bacterial infection.Reps. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen and Filemon Vela of Brownsville called on House and Senate leaders to assess detention conditions and identify steps to protect migrants’ health.“This is another casualty of the Trump administration spending the past three years investing time, money, and manpower into the construction of a wall while neglecting the needs of our region,” the congressmen said in a joint statement. “It is time the Department of Homeland Security take responsibility for their actions and restore integrity to our immigration system.”Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., a Harvard-trained physician, said he plans to introduce legislation ensuring better health screening for migrants in U.S. custody, and better attention to their nutritional and hygiene needs.The Trump administration has downplayed the deaths, asserting that many migrants, particularly children, arrive after a long trek from Central American in poor health. They also note that border authorities are seeing record numbers of migrants and are overwhelmed.Migrant advocates accuse the administration of trying to deflect blame for mistreatment and poor management.  Continue reading...

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