Teen dies at Weslaco Border Patrol station

This May 20, 2019 photo shows the Border Patrol Station in Weslaco, Texas. The U.S. government says a 16-year-old from Guatemala died at the Border Patrol station, becoming the fifth death of a migrant child since December. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that Border Patrol apprehended the teenager in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley on May 13. The agency says the teenager was found unresponsive Monday morning during a welfare check. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials confirmed the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan national who died Monday at its Weslaco station, according to an agency statement.

The teenager, identified Monday afternoon as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez-Vasquez, was detained May 13 near Hidalgo, and transferred from the Rio Grande Valley sector’s main processing center in McAllen to the U.S. Border Patrol station in Weslaco on Sunday.

Hernandez-Vasquez was due to be placed with Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, but was kept at the Weslaco station after it was determined he was not feeling well, according to CBP officials.

CBP officials also said Hernandez-Vasquez let agents know on May 19 he wasn’t feeling well, which prompted medical staff to diagnose him with influenza.

Agents subsequently purchased Tamiflu from a local pharmacy for Hernandez-Vasquez. The following day, Hernandez-Vasquez was found unresponsive during a welfare check.

“ 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,” Acting CBP Commissioner John P. Sanders said.

CBP said that the teenager’s cause of death is not known at this time. Consistent with CBP policy, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has initiated a review. The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General has been notified. The Guatemalan government has also been notified.

CBP informed members of Congress, consistent with CBP’s Interim Procedures on Notification of a Death in Custody.

Last week, a 2-year-old child from Guatemala died after being detained by Border Patrol agents. He was the fourth minor child to die while in CBP custody.

In late April, another 16-year-old male died while at a youth detention facility in Texas.

Juan de León Gutiérrez, determined to have a rare condition known as Pott’s puffy tumor, died April 30 after officials noticed he was sick while at the facility. He died after several days at the hospital, HHS officials said.

In December 2018, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquín died of a bacterial infection, while Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, died on Christmas Eve.

In addition to the five minor children who have died while in U.S. custody, two adults have died since December.

Earlier in the year, CBP confirmed the death of a 40-year-old Mexican national at an El Paso hospital on March 18, which was days after he was apprehended attempting to re-enter the country illegally, a CBP news release stated.

On Feb. 18, a 45-year-old Mexican national died at a McAllen hospital two weeks after he was apprehended near Roma.

Local Border Patrol officials said they would not comment further on the custodial death.

During recent stops in the Valley, Kevin McAleenan, acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, has said the safety and well-being of migrants in the care of CBP and Border Patrol are high priorities.

lzazueta@themonitor.com