An 8-year-old girl died Wednesday after she suffered a “medical emergency” in U.S. Border Patrol custody in Texas, authorities said.
The girl and her family were being held at a facility in Harlingen, near the Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
“Emergency Medical Services were called to the station and transported her to the local hospital where she was pronounced dead,” the statement said, adding that the Office of Professional Responsibility would conduct an investigation, as is standard in the case of a death.
A family member identified the girl as Anadith Reyes, “a happy girl” who was born with a heart condition in Panama to Honduran parents.
Anadith’s parents were coming to the U.S. in hope of continuing treatment for her, Lorna Santos, her aunt, told Noticias Telemundo.
Santos said Anadith’s mother saw the U.S. as a “country of opportunities” for her daughter and went to cross the border from Mexico this month. Santos said Anadith, her parents and two siblings crossed the border together.
Santos became emotional as she said her sister called her to say that Anadith had died and that “we no longer have her in this world.”
Anadith had recently “not been feeling well” and tested positive for the flu, Santos said.
Santos said her mother had taken Anadith several times to be checked out by authorities while in custody, Santos said, and Wednesday morning the girl “wasn’t feeling well again” with pain in her back and “shortness of breath.”
After the mother took Anadith again to be checked out by medical personnel, they took her to the hospital, Santos said.
“They left her there in the waiting room, and that’s where the girl died,” Santos said.
Santos questioned why border authorities detained Anadith for days considering her medical condition.
CBP said it had contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the Harlingen Police Department about the incident.
Sgt. Larry Moore, a Harlingen police spokesman, told The Associated Press he had no information about the death.
A 17-year-old unaccompanied migrant from Honduras died last week at a facility run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement in Florida.
The Honduran government identified him as Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza and called for a full investigation and a criminal investigation if any wrongdoing is found.
Title 42 — a Covid-19 pandemic-related restriction that limits immigration — was lifted May 12. Amid fears of a big influx of migrants, and after an initial surge, the numbers returned to normal.
Blas Nuñez-Neto, the assistant secretary of homeland security for border and immigration policy, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that the daily average of “encounters” with migrants seeking to cross the border since May 12 had fallen from more than 10,000 to just over 4,400, including fewer than 4,000 Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This represents a decrease of 56%, or less than half of the average encountered in the four days leading up to the lifting of Title 42, when the Border Patrol encountered an average of 10,100 individuals each day,” he said.
In the four days after Title 42 was lifted, Border Patrol processed and released more than 6,000 migrants into the U.S. without court dates or the ability to track them.
Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala are the most popular countries of origin for migrants trying to cross the border, he said.