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Teen's Death Inspires New Legislation Reforming How CBP Cares For Migrants

Wiki Commons http://bit.ly/2B0UmGC
Steve Hillebrand
US Fish And Wildlife Service

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the death of a migrant minor at the Weslaco Border Patrol station.

Congressman Joaquin Castro, who is also the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, began the press conference by addressing the deaths of migrant children within the last six months.

"Five children are dead on the watch of the United States government during that time," said Castro. "Let that sink in for a minute. This is outrageous and it’s unacceptable. Enough is enough."

Congressman Castro said it's Congress' responsibility to provide oversight and try to prevent deaths.

“At the rate this Administration is going, Carlos will not be the last child to die at the border this summer," said Castro. “That’s why the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has called for a Congressional and Department of Justice investigation on the death of migrant children over the last six months."

The Guatemalan boy, 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, died at a Border Patrol station in the Rio Grande Valley Monday morning. It was the fifth death of a migrant child since December.

Democratic California Congressman Raul Ruiz chairs the health subcommittee for the caucus. He said he will soon introduce legislation that requires Customs and Border Protection to conduct standardized health screenings that prioritize vulnerable populations.

"To make sure they get a timely health screening that is composed of a questionnaire, recent history interview, vital signs, physical examination, assessment and plan with consultation with emergency care physicians, or providers if there are any abnormalities," Ruiz said.

He added his legislation will also ensure that the caloric needs of all age groups will be met and that migrants have access to safe drinking water.

The teenager was apprehended and processed on May 13.

A Customs and Border Protection official said on May 19 Hernandez Vasquez indicated to officials at the Rio Grande Valley’s Central Processing Center that he did not feel well.

Medical personnel at the processing center diagnosed him with the flu and gave him Tamiflu, which agents bought at a local pharmacy.

About midday Hernandez Vasquez was transferred to the Weslaco station. During a welfare check on May 20, the boy was found unresponsive.

The Weslaco Police Department, FBI andCBP are investigating the death.

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at Reynaldo@TPR.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos

Reynaldo Leaños Jr. can be reached at reynaldo@tpr.org and on Twitter at @ReynaldoLeanos