Robert Moore, Susan Schmidt, and Maryam Jameel report Inside the Cell Where a Sick 16-Year-Old Boy Died in Border Patrol Care:
Video obtained by ProPublica shows the Border Patrol held a sick teen in a concrete cell without proper medical attention and did not discover his body until his cellmate alerted guards. The video doesn’t match the Border Patrol’s account of his death.
Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant, was seriously ill when immigration agents put him in a small South Texas holding cell with another sick boy on the afternoon of May 19.
A few hours earlier, a nurse practitioner at the Border Patrol’s dangerously overcrowded processing center in McAllen had diagnosed him with the flu and measured his fever at 103 degrees. She said that he should be checked again in two hours and taken to the emergency room if his condition worsened.
None of that happened. Worried that Carlos might infect other migrants in the teeming McAllen facility, officials moved him to a cell for quarantine at a Border Patrol station in nearby Weslaco.
By the next morning, he was dead.
In a press release that day, Customs and Border Protection’s acting commissioner at the time, John Sanders, called Carlos’ death a “tragic loss.” The agency said that an agent had found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking in on him. Sanders said the Border Patrol was “committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”
But the record shows that the Border Patrol fell far short of that standard with Carlos. ProPublica has obtained video that documents the 16-year-old’s last hours, and it shows that Border Patrol agents and health care workers at the Weslaco holding facility missed increasingly obvious signs that his condition was perilous.
In all these things, Adam Serwer is right that ‘cruelty is the point’ – a policy by which ‘President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear.’