A Guatemalan teen who fell ill died while in federal custody after a week of dealing with flu-like symptoms.
According to a BuzzFeed report, the teen died on Tuesday following several days in intensive care. The teen was first in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)'s custody beginning on April 20.
The teen was then transferred a day later to a Brownsville, Texas, shelter. During the transfer, the teen reportedly fell ill and showed noticeable symptoms.
The shelter where he last stayed was operated by Southwest Key, one of the nation's largest shelter operators. In recent months, Southwest Key has come under fire for abuse and misconduct allegations regarding how immigrant shelters are operated. At least two shelters were shuttered in Arizona due to documented abuse of children.
“On the morning of April 21, 2019, the minor became noticeably ill including fever, chills and a headache,” Health and Human Services spokesperson Evelyn Stauffer said in a statement.
The victim, who has yet to be identified, was treated at a nearby hospital and released back to the shelter later that day. However, the boy's health did not improve, according to The Texas Tribune.
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“The minor’s health did not improve after being transferred back to the shelter so on the morning of April 22, 2019, the minor was taken to another hospital emergency department via ambulance,” Stauffer said. “Later that day the minor was transferred to a children’s hospital in Texas and was treated for several days in the hospital’s intensive care unit.”
The youth was visited by his younger brother and an undisclosed number of Guatemalan consular officials. The Los Angeles Times reports the teen's parents received updates about his health leading up to his death.
At this time, Stauffer has yet to release the cause of the teen's death.
"In accordance with standard ORR policies and procedures, the case will be subject to a full review,” Stauffer said.
The unnamed teen is just one of a handful of other children who died while in federal custody. Two of the youngest were 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo Gomez and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal. They both were Guatemalan migrants traveling with their fathers as members of a Central American caravan comprised of thousands of asylum seekers.
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