New information regarding a child's death while in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol is raising some troubling questions.
An internal investigation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) found that the parents of 8-year-old Anadith Tanay Reyes Alvarez told Border Patrol medical staff she had a heart condition and a rare blood disorder a day after they were all taken into custody.
According to CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility, on May 16, days after the family was taken into custody, the girl developed a fever of 104.9 degrees. On May 17, Alvarez was seen by a nurse practitioner on four occasions after complaining of a stomachache, nausea and difficulty breathing. But the nurse at the detention center refused every request from the girl's mother to call an ambulance.
The report also says that the nurse declined to review the girl’s medical file but agreed to the mother’s request to administer one folic acid tablet to the child.
That same day, May 17, Alvarez appeared to have suffered a seizure and became unresponsive. She was pronounced dead that afternoon.
Investigators didn’t offer an explanation for the decisions made by the medical staff, and it’s not clear whether they have taken action against any staff member.
"Despite the girl’s condition, her mother’s concerns, and the series of treatments required to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care," the Office of Professional Responsibility said. "None of the CBP contracted medical personnel or U.S. Border Patrol personnel at Harlingen Station who interacted with the girl or her mother acknowledged being aware she suffered from sickle cell anemia or had a history of congenital heart disease."
Alvarez was diagnosed with the flu on May 14 at a temporary holding facility in Donna, Texas, and was moved with her family to Harlingen.
Her mom toldthe Associated Pressthat agents told her that her daughter didn’t need hospital care over influenza, even though they knew that she had a history of heart problems and sickle cell anemia.
"They killed my daughter because she was nearly a day and a half without being able to breathe," the mother said. "She cried and begged for her life, and they ignored her. They didn't do anything for her.
The nurse is denying the claims made in the report.
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