Migrant girl spent time in Phoenix nursing home before dying while in government custody
The death of another migrant child who was being held in the custody of the federal government has come to light.
A 10-year-girl from El Salvador died last year in September while in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency that oversees the care of unaccompanied migrant children after they are caught by the Border Patrol.
The girl's death was first reported Wednesday by CBS News after a spokesman for DHHS acknowledged she had died on Sept. 29, 2018.
The girl spent time in a nursing facility in Phoenix before she died, DHHS spokesman Mark Weber confirmed in a statement to The Arizona Republic.
Weber said the girl entered ORR care in a San Antonio, Texas facility on March 4, 2018 as a "medically fragile child" with a history of congenital heart defects.
"Following a surgical procedure, complications left the child in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix, Arizona for palliative care in May after release from a San Antonio hospital," Weber said in a statement to CBS News. "On September 26, she was transferred to an Omaha, Neb., nursing facility to be closer to her family. On September 29, the child was transported to Children's Hospital of Omaha where she passed due to fever and respiratory distress."
The girl's death was the first of a migrant child in federal custody since 2010, according to officials from ORR and the Department of Homeland Security, CBS News reported.
Five other migrant children, all from Guatemala, have died since December after being apprehended by the Border Patrol, as part of an influx of migrant families and unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border with Mexico into the U.S. and asking to apply for asylum.
The most recent death occurred on May 20, when according to Border Patrol officials a 16-year-old boy diagnosed with the flu died after he was found unresponsive inside a Border Patrol holding area in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., whose district includes an area of the U.S.-Mexico border in southwestern Arizona that has seen a sharp rise in migrant families turning themselves in to the Border Patrol, blamed the Trump administration's "evil immigration policies" for the recent deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody.
“This latest unreported death of a 10-year-old child is a travesty, and the fault rests squarely with the evil immigration policies of the Trump Administration. As Trump plays politics with asylum-seeking children and their parents, the results are increasingly deadly—with six children dying in U.S. custody since September 2018," Grijalva said in a statement.
Trump, however, has blamed Democrats in Congress for failing to close legal "loopholes" he says migrant families are exploiting to get into the U.S., knowing they will be quickly released after turning themselves over to the Border Patrol.
"Democrats don’t want to fix the loopholes at the Border. They don’t want to do anything. Open Borders and crime!," Trump said in a Tweet on Wednesday, the same day the death of the 10-year-old migrant girl from El Salvador was confirmed by DHHS officials.