After child deaths in Border Patrol custody, lawmakers look to improve medical care for migrants

Washington, D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — Last year, three children died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, prompting questions about medical care in the agency’s southwest border facilities.

The House Committee on Homeland Security is taking a look at what CBP needs to do to make sure no more children die in U.S. custody.

“A seven-year-old girl named Jacquelyn and an eight-year-old boy named Felipe,” U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson said.

The Mississippi Democratic congressman read the names of the five children who have died in Border Patrol’s custody since 2018.

“There is something seriously wrong with this picture,” he said.

Dr. Roger Mitchell, Jr. is Chief Medical Examiner in Washington, D.C. He says he’s examined the autopsy reports, and each death could have been prevented.

“There are many missed opportunities to provide life-saving care to this child,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell blames overcrowding and lack of personnel at the detention facilities.

Last year, Congress approved $112 million in emergency funding to help Border Patrol care for migrants, according to Thompson, but he says the agency used that money elsewhere.

“To instead buy jet skis, dirt bikes and even dog food,” he said.

Thompson says Border Patrol needs to be held accountable, but U.S. Representative and Republican Mike Rogers defended the agency.

“Record numbers of families and children crossed our border last year. Groups of hundreds to thousands of migrants came across it at once,” Rogers said.

Rogers says CPB has been overwhlemed.

“Until Congress takes action to address the root cause of last year’s crisis, it’s only a matter of time before another one occurs,” he said.

Rogers says if Congress wants to save lives, it should work with the President to secure the border.

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