Guatemalan migrant dies after being apprehended at the Texas-Mexico border

Texas Tribune News

A Border Patrol agent closes a gate at the Eagle Point development in Eagle Pass.  
A Border Patrol agent closes a gate at the Eagle Point development in Eagle Pass.  
Robin Jerstad for The Texas Tribune

A Central American migrant has died while in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, the agency said in a news release Monday.

The Guatemalan teenager, who hasn’t been identified, was processed by agents May 13 and was set to be transferred to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the treatment of immigrant minors in federal custody. He was found unresponsive Monday morning at the Border Patrol station in Weslaco.

“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. CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody,” CBP said in a statement.

A cause of death is unknown, CBP added. The agency said its inspector general, members of Congress and the Guatemalan government have been notified of the teenager’s death.

The teen’s death marks the fifth time in less than six months that a Central American child has died in the federal government’s custody. The most recent death occurred earlier this month when a 2-year-old boy, who was also from Guatemala, died after spending weeks in the hospital, The Washington Post reported last week. The toddler was apprehended with his mother in early April.

On April 30, a Guatemalan teenager died in a Texas hospital after being in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and in December, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died after she and her father were apprehended with a large group of undocumented immigrants near Antelope Wells, N.M., which is in the U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso sector. About two weeks later, Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 8, died after he was apprehended in El Paso and transferred to a nearby hospital in New Mexico after falling ill.

Texas’ Rio Grande Valley is in the midst of an ongoing surge of unauthorized migration, mainly of people escaping violence and poverty in Central America. Last week, the U.S. Border Patrol announced it was constructing four additional temporary tents in the Valley to house some of the thousands of migrants who continue to cross into the country from Mexico. That’s in addition to a 500-person facility recently completed in Donna.