HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Migrant advocates blame the deaths of two children on the living conditions at immigration facilities.
An 8-year-old girl whose family migrated from Central America to the United States died on Wednesday while in Border Patrol custody.
Anadith Alvarez is the second child in recent weeks in the custody of immigration officials.
“This is at America’s doorstep and it is a real disgrace,” Eleanor Acer, director of Refugee Protection for Human Rights First said.
Officials say Alvarez and her family were being held at a Border Patrol station in Harlingen, Texas, when she suffered a medical emergency.
EMS was called to the station. Soon after, Alvarez was taken to a local hospital where she later died.
Honduran Consul Jose Navas says the girl’s father told them Anadith was born with heart issues and was operated on three years ago in Panama.
Amy Fisher, advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA, says there are so many migrants being held in detention. It is hard for them to get medical attention with the limited manpower.
“The small amount of medical providers that are there are oftentimes dealing with the most critical, the most urgent emergencies and there is nowhere near the amount of capacity to one establish basic public health on in order to prevent mass amounts of people being sick and then to responding to the mass amount of sicknesses that there already are,” Fischer said.
A spokesman with Welcome with Dignity, an organization that helps migrants, says Title 42 created a barrier for migrants who are forced to live in encampments under extreme conditions.
They are reaching out to see what help they can provide and what is needed.
“It is tragic. And, and we’re looking into it,” said Bilal Askaryar, interim campaign manager with Welcome With Dignity. “We’re trying to connect with advocates there to see what is needed. But our thoughts and our thoughts are with the family.”
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol say they are investigating Alvarez’s death.
Migrant advocates are also speaking out on their frustrations with the treatment of asylum-seekers in the U.S.
“For years, people have complained about cruel conditions and Border Patrol facilities as well as in ICE facilities and when we know that people are entering those facilities already sick and they have language access barriers,” Fischer said.
ValleyCentral reached out to Border Patrol for comment. The agency said no other details would be released about the child’s death or the condition of the facilities where her family was being held.