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  • Border Tragedy: Unaccompanied Guatemalan Minor In U.S. Custody Dies From Illness

    Border Tragedy: Unaccompanied Guatemalan Minor In U.S. Custody Dies From Illness

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    A 16 year-old Guatemalan minor, who traveled unaccompanied from his homeland to the United States illegally, died at a Texas children’s hospital Tuesday after battling a severe illness. The minor apparently contracted the illness while making the dangerous trek to the United States border but officials are still investigating the matter.

    The name of the 16 year-old male is being withheld and his family in Guatemala has been notified, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR is the main government agency within Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families for minors traveling unaccompanied to the United States.

    The minor child was “transferred to a children’s hospital in Texas and was treated for several days in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Following several days of intensive care, the minor passed away at the hospital on April 30, 2019,” ORR stated.

    “Arrangements were made for the minor’s brother and Guatemalan consular officials to visit the minor while he was hospitalized,” the press release added. “The family who resides in the home country received frequent updates from hospital staff.”

    ORR did not elaborate on the child’s illness or what may have caused the death but did state that an investigation is underway.

    Guatemalan officials could not be immediately reached for comment. According to the ORR website the agency “and its care providers must immediately report the death to appropriate Federal, State, and local authorities.”

    “ORR must also notify the child or youth’s parent, legal guardian, or next-of-kin; attorney; and applicable consulate of the death,” the website states.

    The teenage boy arrived to the shelter in the evening on April 20. He was transferred there by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the press release.

    “No health concerns were observed by clinicians with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when CBP facilitated the transfer of the minor to the shelter,” the statement sent to said. “Upon arrival to the shelter the minor did not note any health concerns.”

    However, on the morning of April 21, the young man “became noticeably ill including fever, chills and a headache.”

    ORR shelter personnel took “the minor to a hospital emergency department that morning on April 21,” and he was treated. He was later released back to the shelter the same day, according to ORR.

    Unfortunately, “the minor’s health did not improve after being transferred back to the shelter so on the morning of April 22, 2019 the minor was taken to another hospital emergency department via ambulance,” according to the ORR release.

    Tom Homan, the former director for U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement said it is  another example of the dangerous journey taken by illegal immigrant minors and a major reason why President Trump’s administration is fighting so hard to stop this humanitarian crisis.

    “I’ve been out there for ten months saying this isn’t about law enforcement this is about protecting and saving lives,” said Homan.

    Homan, whose career spans 34 years with DHS, said “failure to fix the border, failure to stop this is going to lead to more deaths for children and perpetual abuse of women and people being trafficked into the United States.

    “I’m sick and tired of this and the failure to resolve this problem,” he said. “I’ve seen too many dead children. If people saw what I’ve seen over the last 34 year career they would know it’s a very real crisis, not manufactured. How many people have to die before Congress wakes up?”

    ORR stated that “the cause of death is currently under review and, in accordance with standard ORR policies and procedures, the case will be subject to a full review.”

    For More Information on the Office of Refugee Resettlement Go To: 

    Information on ORR medical services is available online in the ORR UAC Policy Guide

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