HARLINGEN, Texas— An 8 year old girl who died last week in Border Patrol custody she was seen at least three separate times by medical personnel on the day of her death, complaining of vomiting, stomach pain and then having what appeared to be a seizure, before she was taken to a hospital, US immigration officials said Sunday.
The girl’s mother had previously said officers had repeatedly ignored her pleas to hospitalize her medically fragile daughter, who had a history of heart problems and diseased cell anemia. Anadith Tanay Reyes Alvarez, of Honduran parents, was born in Panama with congenital heart disease.
“She cried and begged for her life, and they ignored her. They did nothing for her,» Mabel Alvarez Benedicks, Anadith’s mother, had previously said.
In a statement, US Customs and Border Protection said it knew of the girl’s medical history when staff began treating her for influenza four days before her May 17 death.
Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement that while his agency awaits the results of an internal investigation, he has ordered that several steps be taken to ensure appropriate care for all medically fragile individuals in his agency’s custody.
These actions include reviewing the cases of all known medically fragile individuals currently in custody to ensure their detention time is limited and examining health care practices at CBP facilities to see if additional staffing is needed.
“We must ensure that medically fragile individuals receive the best possible care and spend the least amount of time possible in CBP custody,” Miller said, adding that her agency is “deeply saddened” by the “tragic death” of the little girl.
Anadith’s death raised questions about whether Border Patrol handled the situation appropriately. It was the second death of a migrant child in two weeks in US government custody after a spate of illegal border crossings amid the expiration of pandemic-related asylum limits known as Title 42 severely overloaded detention facilities.
According to a CBP statement, Anadith had first expressed complaints of abdominal pain, nasal congestion, and cough on the afternoon of May 14. She had a temperature of 101.8 F.
After a test showed she had the flu, Anadith was given acetaminophen, ibuprofen, an anti-nausea medication, and Tamiflu, a flu treatment, according to CBP.
The family was then transferred from a facility in Donna, Texas, to one in Harlingen, Texas.
He continued to receive Tamiflu for the next two days. She was also given ibuprofen, according to CBP.
Álvarez Benedicks had told the AP that her daughter’s health progressively worsened during those days and that doctors at the station denied her repeated requests for an ambulance to take the girl to a hospital.
“I felt like they didn’t believe me,” Álvarez Benedicks said.
On May 17, the girl and her mother went to the medical unit at the Harlingen Border Patrol station at least three times, CBP said. On the first visit, Anadith complained of vomiting. In the second, the child complained of stomach pain. On the third visit at 1:55 p.m., «the mother was carrying the child who appeared to be having a seizure, after which records indicate the child became unresponsive,» according to CBP.
Medical personnel began performing CPR before she was taken to a hospital in Harlingen, where she was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m.
A medical examiner is awaiting additional tests before determining the cause of death.
His death came a week after a 17-year-old Honduran youth, Angel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinozadied in the custody of the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was traveling alone.