Featured Issue: Conditions in CBP Custody

A recent review by Politico found that, “The Department of Homeland Security's inadequate medical technology and record-management for the thousands of migrants who pass through its custody are contributing to poor care and even deaths, according to lawsuit records reviewed by POLITICO.” Further, the reporting found “persistent complaints from experts and advocates for migrants rights who say attention to the medical needs of asylum seekers is indifferent at best. Recent reports indicate that Customs and Border Patrol rejected a CDC recommendation to administer flu shots to people in its custody; two children later died of flu in the agency's facilities.”

As of May 20, 2019, five migrant children have died since December 2018 after being apprehended at the southern border. So far, all of these children have been from Guatemala. This increase in mortality corresponds with record numbers of families from Guatemala and other northern Central American countries coming to the United States seeking asylum, with nearly 100,000 crossing in April 2019, the highest monthly total in a decade.

On December 25, 2018, DHS issued a statement, “DHS has continued to see a dramatic increase in unaccompanied children and family units arriving at our borders illegally or without authorization. Consistent with existing law, these individuals are held at federal facilities pending their removal or release into the interior of the United States with a notice to appear at a court hearing. During their period of detention they received medical screenings and further treatment as needed.”

As a result of a second death of a child in December 2018, the Washington Post reports that CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said the Border Patrol would conduct health checks of all children in its “care and custody,” whether they arrived in the United States as part of a family or were unaccompanied. The health reviews will focus on children under 10.

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 18122608.