Guatemalan teen is 3rd minor migrant to die in U.S. custody
May 20 (UPI) — A 16-year-old migrant boy died while in the custody of the U.S. government in Texas on Monday, the third minor migrant death in less than a month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
The agency said the Guatemalan boy died after agents found him unresponsive during a morning welfare check at Border Patrol‘s Weslaco Station.
Agents apprehended the teen May 13 after he allegedly crossed the border illegally near Hidalgo, Texas. He was expected to be placed with Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The cause of the boy’s death, and whether he crossed the border alone or with family members, were not clear.
“The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” said John Sanders, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
The Guatemalan teen is the third minor migrant to die over the past month. Another 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died April 30 after experiencing flu-like symptoms and a 2-year-old Guatemalan died last week shortly after Customs and Border Protection released the sick boy to a hospital.
The deaths come amid an increase in undocumented migrants — particularly families with children — crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In April, Border Patrol agents apprehended 98,977 people between ports of entry, a 157.89 percent increase over April 2018. Among those apprehended were 8,897 unaccompanied minors, 58,474 people belonging to a family unit and 31,606 single adults.
Additionally, 10,167 people who presented themselves at ports of entry were deemed inadmissible in April, a drop from 10,888 in March.
To combat the influx of migrants, President Donald Trump last week proposed a new merit-based immigration system benefiting higher-wage and higher-skilled workers, and asylum seekers with a “legitimate” claim.