16-year-old unaccompanied migrant boy dies in U.S. custody

The unidentified boy died after days in intensive care at a children's hospital in Texas.
Image: People who've been taken into custody sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas
People who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, on June 17, 2018.U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP

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By Daniella Silva

A 16-year-old unaccompanied migrant died in Texas while in the custody of the U.S. government, officials said Wednesday.

The boy died Tuesday after "several days of intensive care" at a children's hospital, Health and Human Services Spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said in a statement to NBC News.

BuzzFeed News first reported the boy's death.

The boy, who was not identified, was transferred on April 20 from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services that houses migrant children, according to the statement.

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"No health concerns were observed" by clinicians when the boy arrived at a shelter, and "the minor did not note any health concerns," Stauffer said.

The next morning, the teen "became noticeably ill including fever, chills and a headache," according to the statement.

Shelter personnel brought the child to a hospital emergency room that morning, where he was treated and released to the shelter that same day, the statement said.

But the boy's health did not improve and he was taken by ambulance to another hospital emergency room the next day, Stauffer said in the statement.

"Later that day the minor was transferred to a children’s hospital in Texas and was treated for several days in the hospital’s intensive care unit," she said. "Following several days of intensive care, the minor passed away at the hospital on April 30, 2019."

Stauffer said arrangements were made for the boy's brother and Guatemalan consular officials to visit him while he was in the hospital and his family received updates from hospital staff.

The cause of death is currently under review and the incident was being investigated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to the statement.

The boy's death comes after the high-profile deaths of two children, 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo Gomez and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, in U.S. Border Patrol custody in December and a stillbirth in ICE custody in February.