Statement by BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia
“The Border Network for Human Rights is outraged by the news of the death of a fifth child while in Trump Administration custody. The death of this child, while unfortunate, comes as no surprise. The lack of proper and timely medical treatment, denial of access to medication and/or hospitals, poor sanitary conditions in which a group of 40 or more refugees shares one restroom, limited access to food and water, cruel exposure to low and/or high temperatures, and physical and psychological abuse and stress have become the norm under this President for how government agencies treat refugees and asylum seekers while in custody.
This inhuman treatment of immigrant and refugees has gone too far. The loss of these lives are the direct result of Trump’s mishandling of the refugee’s situation at the U.S./Mexico border. Agencies such as Border Patrol, OFO, CBP, ORR, HHS, and ICE act with a complete disregard of the rights and well-being of these families. NGOs and local governments, even Congresspersons, have been denied ongoing and systemic access to detention facilities to inspect conditions. The lack of transparency and accountability obscures the problems facing migrants until it is too late. These failures, structural and intentional on the part of this Administration, have taken the lives of five children so far, and we can only imagine more to come.
We are particularly concerned that this is the third child to die in the custody of the El Paso Sector. It is painfully obvious there is a serious problem in El Paso. We call, urgently, for a thorough, impartial, and independent investigation into the conditions that children, families, and all migrants face while in custody in this region.
We will never accept that children dying in detention are normal or acceptable. Prior to this administration it was more than a decade since a migrant child had died in U.S. custody—now it has happened five times. This is an appalling pattern of immorality and inhumanity.
So let us stress: It is NOT NORMAL to have children dying at a detention center of our government. It is NOT NORMAL to deny these families their rights under the U.S. Constitution and international law. The mistreatment and abuses committed by border enforcement institution against children and families are NOT NORMAL. And it will NOT BE NORMAL that we allow these transgressions to continue. We will not remain silent.
Trump and his border enforcement agencies have blood on their hands. They are responsible for the deaths of these children. They need to be held accountable and we will ensure they are.”
The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations located at the U.S./Mexico Border. BNHR has over 7,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico.