As the Trump administration continues to face scrutiny over their treatment of immigrants, even more information about the scope of the Trump administration’s dangerous behavior is coming out. Now, documentation has emerged that flatly reveals that a Border Patrol explanation for the mid-May death of a teenaged Guatemalan immigrant named Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was a lie. Although they claimed that a guard had discovered the sixteen-year-old boy’s body during a routine check, in reality, video shows that the boy clearly suffered for almost half an hour and then fell to the ground, where he remained for some four and a half hours. Topping off the situation, his cellmate is the one who reported his death, not some valiant guard.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek shared:
‘Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal. No one should die this way: vomiting, with a fever and without the comfort of a caregiver.’
On May 19, Carlos had been diagnosed with the flu by a nurse at the “dangerously overcrowded” Border Patrol migrant processing center in McAllen, Texas, who also registered his temperature as a whopping 103 degrees. That nurse said that Carlos should be checked up on in two hours and that if his condition kept deteriorating, he should be taken to an actual medical facility. Although Border Patrol did take other ill migrants to actual medical facilities throughout the burst in migration earlier this year, Carlos was never taken there, and he died in his cell. He’d been placed there — at a facility in Weslaco, Texas — in a quarantine effort.
It’s unclear where exactly the lie came from that Border Patrol had done the best they could — or whatever — in Carlos’s case. Internal logs claim that he was checked on multiple times in the hours-long period in which his condition rapidly fell apart and he died, but those checks clearly just aren’t true. He was left there for hours. ProPublica obtained video through a records request filed with the Weslaco police department. Although Customs and Border Patrol has resisted attempts at getting documentation directly from them because of an internal investigation that they claim is ongoing, Weslaco police temporarily intervened in the case.
ProPublica reports that Carlos “was the sixth migrant child to die after being detained while entering the U.S. in less than a year.” To be clear, it is the Trump administration’s choice to treat these people in this mess of a system. They could roll back detentions, improve facilities, and fire guards who mock dead migrants on uncovered private Facebook message boards — but that’s not happening. Instead, they’re continuing to dial into their effort to crack down on immigrants with no basis other than the color of their skin.
It’s one of a number of issues poised to weigh on voters’ choices heading into the 2020 presidential election.