Elizabeth Warren is taking action after two more children died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody this past week.
“I have been and continue to be extraordinarily concerned about this administration’s treatment of immigrant children, ” writes Warren in her letter, addressed John P. Sanders, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“The deaths of five children who had been in CBP care in six months are appalling,” continues Warren, “and you owe the public an explanation and a full accounting for the causes and circumstances of their deaths.”
Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez died earlier this week after having been held by immigration authorities for six days, twice as long as federal law generally permits, according to The Associated Press.
Before Vásquez, a two-year-old toddler died after first being detained by border patrol and then spending weeks in the hospital with pneumonia.
These deaths follow those of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, who died of sepsis in an El Paso hospital in December and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo who died of complications from the flu and a bacterial infection while in CBP protection custody.
“The three fatalities this month,” Warren writes in her letter, “reveal that current efforts to protect children held in U.S. custody after entering the country are failing.”
Warren requests answers to questions such as what are the implementation of the “extraordinary protective measures” promised by Secretary Nielsen in December, what additional steps will the CBP take to protect individuals, are CBP officials conducting a review of the recent fatalities, have their been any other cases of detained children that died in custody or shortly after, and have there been any other cases of children developing serious illnesses or health problems while in custody? Senator Warren also asks for a detailed timeline of the recent three children’s fatalities. All of this information is requested back by June 4, 2019.
“During a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on June 24, 2018, I visited the McAllen central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, where I witnessed children being held in appalling conditions by CBP at the height of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy. In December 2018, I wrote to the DHS Inspector General (IG) with several questions to consider during the IG’s review of the deaths of these children. This review is under way, but it is not clear when it will be completed,” writes Warren.
Warren concludes, “Children are dying, and the CBP must do more to end this string of tragedies.”