U.S. shutters large migrant facility in Texas amid flu outbreak

Patrol Station in Weslaco Texas. The U.S. government says a 16-year-old from Guatemala died at the Border Patrol station becoming the fifth death of a migrant child since December

U.S. shutters large migrant facility in Texas amid flu outbreak

The Border Patrol agency has come under intense scrutiny in recent months over its treatment of children apprehended at the border.

National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said Wednesday on "America's Newsroom" that routine overcrowding and the inability for his agents to hold migrants "without proper facilities" for the long term could further complicate the situation at the border.

At a nearby facility to the Central Processing Center where a suspected flu outbreak has prompted officials to stop processing, migrants look out from a makeshift encampment at the U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station in McAllen, Texas, May 15, 2019.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on May 21 that it has temporarily stopped taking in migrants at the main processing facility at McAllen, Texas, after a large number of detainees began showing signs of flu-related illnesses.

CBS News has confirmed the Centralized Processing Center is the same facility where a 16-year-old who later died had been diagnosed with the flu.

On May 19, Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez told staff members at the facility that he did not feel well and was subsequently diagnosed with influenza A, reported NBC News, citing a CBP official.

Carlos is the fifth child to die in USA custody since December.

The three deaths followed the passing of two young Guatemalans in December: Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died of sepsis, a bacterial infection, in an El Paso hospital in December, two days after she and her father were detained. "CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody", said CBP Acting Commissioner John Sanders.

Judd called the "five too many" deaths "not acceptable".

'This is an epidemic of death, ' said Texas Rep Joaquin Castro.

"Every year the Border Patrol saves hundreds of people who are overcome by the elements between our ports of entry".

The latest death of a child in custody was a teen who appears to have been traveling without his parents.

A 16-year-old boy died Monday in immigration custody in Texas, becoming the fifth child from Guatemala to die since December after being apprehended by USA border patrol agents.

Immigration authorities have ordered an increase of medical checks for children in their custody, with a focus on children under 10, amid an uptick of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

At the time Carlos died, he was awaiting transfer to a shelter for unaccompanied children, CBP said.

CBP has said the influx of migrants crossing the border has been overwhelming the system for months.

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