Another Immigrant Dies In US Custody, Fourth Since December

A patch on the uniform of a U.S. Border Patrol agent at a highway checkpoint
Scott Eisen / Getty Images

Ever since the Trump Administration started to separate children from their parents at the border when families arrived to seek asylum in the U.S., the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) as well as the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) has been under renewed scrutiny for their treatment of immigrants in the country.

That scrutiny only became worse when reports of people dying in their custody came to the fore. According to TIME Magazine, a fourth person died on Monday after being arrested by ICE over the weekend.

CBP broke the news on Tuesday, stating that a 40-year-old Mexican man had died at the Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso. They have not released his identity, saying only that he had been “re-entering the country illegally,” implying that he had previously been in the U.S., whether legally or not.

According to the news release, he had been admitted to the hospital after his arrest, and was being treated for “flu-like symptoms and liver and kidney failure,” which would indicate that he had been sick before he had arrived at the border and been taken into custody by CBP.

Buzzfeed News reports that Andrew Meehan, assistant commissioner for public affairs at CBP, issued a statement about the man’s death.

“CBP remains committed to ensuring the safe, humane, and dignified treatment of those within the care of our custody,” Meehan said in a statement.

“CBP will release more details as available and appropriate, and will ensure an independent and thorough review of the circumstances.”

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Upon his arrest near the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso, the man was assessed by a medical professional at the agency and diagnosed before being transported immediately to the hospital. There will be an internal investigation into the man’s death, according to CBP.

The man is the second Mexican national to have died after being arrested by U.S. immigration officials, with a 45-year-old man having died in their custody last month. He had also been ill prior to his arrest, having been diagnosed with cirrhosis and congestive heart failure shortly after he was taken into custody, neither of which are diseases that appear within hours.

What has been of greater concern to the general public was the two Guatemalan children who died in CBP custody late last year. The two children, aged 7 and 8, were both healthy on the journey to the U.S., according to Independent UK.

Following the two deaths, the agencies responded by saying there would be “a more thorough hands on assessment” of children coming into their custody after being detained at the border.