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Detained Mexican migrant dies in Texas hospital

The man's death is at least the third involving a detainee since December, and could renew questions about the care of people in Border Patrol custody.
Image: U.S. Customs And Border Patrol Agents Patrol Border In El Paso, TX
A U.S. Border Patrol agent speaks with Central American immigrants at the border fence after they crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico on Feb. 01, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.John Moore / Getty Images file

MCALLEN, Texas — A Mexican man detained by Border Patrol for illegal re-entry died Monday at a hospital in Texas.

The 45-year-old man, who was not immediately identified, was initially apprehended Feb. 2 by police in the Texas border community of Roma and requested medical attention, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Andrew Meehan said in a statement. He was taken to a medical center in McAllen and later cleared to return to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station.

The next day, he requested medical attention again and was taken to the hospital where he stayed until he died Monday.

Meehan said the official cause of death is not yet known, but the medical center diagnosed him with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure when he was admitted. The death is under investigation.

"This loss of life is tragic," Meehan said. "Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones. CBP remains committed to ensuring the safe and humane treatment of those within the care of our custody.”

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The man's death is at least the third involving a detainee since December, and could renew questions about the care of people in Border Patrol custody and how well authorities are prepared to deal with such emergencies.

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died from sepsis shock on Dec. 8, the Department of Homeland Security said, two days after she and her father were picked up by U.S. authorities in a remote stretch of the New Mexico desert.

According to DHS, the father initially said that neither he nor his daughter were sick, and that they were given water, food and access to bathrooms. But on the trip to a border patrol station, the girl became ill and began vomiting, the father said.

In another case on Christmas Eve, an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy suffering from the flu died in U.S. custody in New Mexico — about a week after he and his father were apprehended at the border. Critics said Border Patrol should have had pediatricians or trained staff that could have better attended to the boy.

The Trump administration's handling of migrants at the border took a new turn last week, when President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to fulfill his promise of completing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Sixteen states filed a lawsuit Monday against the emergency declaration.

The move allows the president to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.

Erik Ortiz contributed.