Another Illegal Immigrant Child Dies in US Custody

An 8-year-old illegal immigrant has died while in U.S. custody.

The child “tragically passed away while in U.S. Border Patrol custody in Harlingen, Texas” on May 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which includes Border Patrol, said in a statement.

The girl was with her family at the Border Patrol facility in Harlingen, in southern Texas, when she “experienced a medical emergency,” officials said. “Emergency Medical Services were called to the station and transported her to the local hospital where she was pronounced dead.”

The nationality of the girl has not been made public.

CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating, and officials said they would make additional information available in the future.

The death is the second of a young illegal immigrant this week.

A 17-year-old Honduran national died on May 10 while being held at a facility in Florida.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the facility, has not made the suspected cause of death or any other clinical details available.

Officials said a medical examiner was investigating and that the department was reviewing the details of the case.

“It is sad news, it is deeply saddening to hear, and we are certainly aware of the tragic loss, and our hearts go out to the family,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing.

The teenager was an unaccompanied minor, or an illegal immigrant minor, who arrived without a responsible adult.

A 4-year-old girl from Honduras also died in U.S. custody in March, CNN reported. The girl was described as “medically fragile,” and officials said she suffered a cardiac event.

Neha Desai, senior director of immigration at the National Center for Youth Law, told the outlet that the girl was “provided with appropriate medical care and other support, and she lived longer than was expected.”

Multiple illegal immigrant children died in U.S. custody during the Trump administration, including a 10-year-old from El Salvador with a history of heart problems and a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who suffered organ failure after experiencing strep throat.

The United States has recorded a spike in illegal immigration since President Joe Biden took office, with a record 2.3 million encounters recorded at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022 alone.

April Numbers

CBP reported this week that 211,401 encounters happened in April, the second-highest number in an April on record and up about 20,000, or 10 percent, from March.

About two-thirds of all the illegal immigrants encountered were single adults, a 5 percent increase from March. The rest of the encounters were with family units, or family members traveling together, and unaccompanied minors.

The total didn’t include some 28,700 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, or Venezuela who were granted parole or allowed into the country due to clearance from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Arrivals of noncitizens via these processes, which include careful vetting and require a supporter present in the United States, are a testament to the benefit of these lawful processes in promoting safe and orderly migration while reducing encounters along the southwest border,” the department said in a statement.

The Biden administration has ramped up its usage of parole powers granted by Congress, a practice being challenged in court.

Also in April, the administration made nearly 72,000 expulsions under Title 42, a public health order first implemented during the Trump administration. The order enables quick expulsion of some illegal immigrants over concerns they’re infected with COVID-19 but was ended on May 12 as the COVID-19 public health emergency was allowed to expire.


More illegal immigrants have been held by Border Patrol than normal in recent days.

Some 28,700 illegal immigrants were in custody on May 10, according to a court filing. That was double the number from two weeks prior.

On May 14, the number dropped to 22,259.

Border Patrol agents started releasing illegal immigrants without court notices earlier this month, a practice that has been used on and off during the Biden administration, due to overcrowding. Agents asked the illegal immigrants to appear at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility for a court notice at a later date.

Some 6,413 illegal immigrants were released before a federal judge ordered the administration to halt the releases. U.S. District Judge Kent Wetherell II, a Trump appointee, described the releases as “a functionally identical policy” to one he struck down in March.

Despite the order, the administration released thousands more illegal immigrants into the U.S. interior, prompting Wetherell to threaten to hold the Department of Homeland Security in contempt.

In response, agency officials claimed many of the illegal immigrants had been “fully processed” but not released before the order went into effect. Another 167 illegal immigrants were released, they acknowledged.

Wetherell ultimately chose not to hold the department in contempt but said officials should have clarified with the court before releasing illegal immigrants in possible contravention of the order. He did ask for more details on the 167 illegal immigrants who were not fully processed before the order went into effect.

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