Rapid Response to a Child Death in CBP Custody

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “Neglect is frequently defined as the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm… Ten States and American Samoa specifically define medical neglect as failing to provide any special medical treatment or mental health care needed by the child.”

In the United States, we expect government organizations to conduct themselves at the highest possible standard. We expect any individual under the legal custody of a government organization to have their basic human needs provided for, no matter their origin or offences. When a 7-year-old girl dies in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – a United States governmental organization – we as United States citizens should be outraged.

For more than eight hours this child was under the protection of CBP. For more than eight hours she suffered through progressively worsening symptoms of dehydration. For more than eight hours she was not given adequate provisions to prevent the terrible seizures brought on by an astronomically high body temperature and lack of essential fluids. We do not know what resources CBP provided for her, or her father, or any of the other 161 people in detention, but following the untimely death of this young vulnerable child we do know they did not do enough.

This tragedy could have and should have been avoided, and the fact it was not highlights the already well-known shortcomings within Customs and Border Protection. As we know, immigrants will continue trying to come to the United States through the border, so it is time to prepare rather than react. Funding is needed to build more centers for housing these individuals and families and to employ the professionals necessary to ensure that a tragedy such as the death of a 7-year-old child in governmental custody never happens again. The United States stands for human rights and we must treat all potential immigrants humanely and with dignity.

Photo Credit: US Custom and Border Protection

The National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV) is an overarching group of individuals, organizations, agencies, coalitions, and groups that embrace a national, multi-disciplinary and multicultural commitment to violence prevention across the lifespan.

NPEIV demands an investigation into the resources and practices for migrant retention within the United States. Rather than continuing to overburden our system by arresting those hoping to offer sponsorship to children in detention, we should instead focus on improving the conditions of our Border Patrol facilities and developing quicker, more efficient ways to process immigration requests. The shortcomings of one of the United States most prominent government agencies cannot continue at the cost of lives.

NPEIV is committed to reducing interpersonal violence and its consequences through scientific research and application of empirical findings. It is our mission to make the prevention of interpersonal violence a national and international priority and to encourage healthy relationships by linking science, practice, policy and advocacy.

Through our many partnerships and collaborations, it is our vision to end all types of interpersonal violence, for all people, in all communities, at all stages of life. For more information, please visit www.npeiv.org

The Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute/The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) serves as the fiscal and logistical agents of NPEIV and are a Non-Profit 501(C)(3) Corporation. 

© 2017 by NPEIV

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