Migrant Child Dies After Leaving South Texas Immigration Facility, State Opens Investigation

Eric GayAP Images

A child has reportedly died after leaving a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Texas, according to The Guardian. On Thursday, child welfare officials opened an investigation into the incident that occurred last week.

The announcement was made after a public hearing in which immigration attorneys reported that the child’s name and other information surrounding the situation was not being released. Shortly after, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services declared that they had received the name and were launching an investigation.

Reports of a child dying after leaving an ICE facility in Dilley, Texas, have been circulating on social media, further adding to the heated immigration debate and Trump administration tightening security measures at the border. Although specific details have been sparse, this particular case marks the 52nd child abuse and neglect investigation since December. The other cases have either not been substantiated by child welfare officials or are still ongoing.

Hank Whitman, the commissioner of Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, made a public plea to the child’s family’s attorneys on Thursday morning.

“If he’s saying a child has been injured or died from injuries in there, I’m going to put my law enforcement hat on right now. I need to know the name of that child so we can investigate that thoroughly,” The Guardian cites.

Activists demonstrate as a group of US mayors hold a press conference outside the holding facility for immigrant children in Tornillo, Texas.
Featured image credit: Andres LeightonAP Images

The family’s attorneys, from Washington D.C. law firm Arnold & Porter, responded to Whitman’s plea and passed along details about the child to state investigators. Since then, the agencies have confirmed that both the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission are looking into the situation.

The only information available at this time surrounding the incident is that a “small child tragically died after being detained by ICE in unsanitary conditions,” reports The Guardian.

Ice officials disputed the claim that their facilities were unsanitary. Field office director for Ice’s San Antonio sector made a statement in response to the claim.

“It’s a clean facility. Everything is cleaned and reviewed. We have people on site daily that go through to make sure that sanitary conditions are kept, even with hygiene with people, we have case managers that talk to people that make sure that they themselves are keeping clean.”

The state of Texas gives child-care licenses to immigrant detention facilities that house children, although officials have stated that they cannot deny licenses as long as the facilities meet the requirements. The Dilley facility in particular houses 2,400 people and is one of just two family detention centers in the state.