Court wardens warn of Border Patrol medical problems before girl’s death

MCCALLEN, Texas — A court-appointed observer said in January that immigrant children in medical isolation could be overlooked when Border Patrol posts are overcrowded, as an 8-year-old girl with heart disease died. He issued a warning five months before he died in custody. The same Texas he visited was at an unusually busy time.

Dr. Paul H. Wise, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, said the death of Anadis Taney Reyes Alvarez of Panama was “preventable” in an interview in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, this week to assess the situation. .

“Any child who is ill, especially one with chronic problems, should have no hesitation in referring them to a local hospital, preferably a children’s hospital or one with a well-equipped pediatrics department,” Wise said. told the Associated Press.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the girl had been seen by medical personnel on at least three occasions on the day of her death, complaining of vomiting, stomach pains and seizures before being taken to the hospital. rice field. CBP did not respond to requests for comment on Wise’s January report or the latest comments.

In January, Wise wrote a lengthy report on the custody of Border Patrol children in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, Texas. . Last year, a federal judge asked him to investigate custody conditions in the two downtown areas as part of a 1997 court settlement to ensure safe treatment of child immigrants.

Weisz will soon file a report on the May 17 death of a girl who died on the 9th day of detention after being diagnosed with the flu and transferred with her family to a police station in Harlingen, Texas. The agency has its own policy of limiting detention time to 72 hours.

The results of his research have yet to be revealed (he declined to discuss it), but some of his earlier warnings may resurface.

Wise has previously expressed concern about the crowds of children in medical isolation. His January report revealed how El Paso’s “single medical team” was responsible for 125 patients “far exceeding” the team’s capacity.

Wise said in January that border guards were also struggling to meet the requirement to conduct regular health checks for children who came with their families and were in crowded train stations.

“Five-day remedical evaluation is most important when families are in overcrowded detention for long periods,” he wrote. “However, this medical protocol appears to be a relatively low priority in these circumstances, as there are other important demands on available medical staff.”

Wise also raised concerns about chronic diseases going undetected and “relevant medical information” not being known or shared among staff.

CBP’s relatively detailed report on the girl’s detention time does not directly mention the mandatory inspection every five days or how crowded Harlingen station was when she was there.

Government responsibilities for children’s health care are clearly defined in recently updated agreements for both the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. “CBP shall immediately activate the 911 system or refer the youth to the local health care system whenever appropriate for evaluation and treatment. The juvenile in custody shall be referred to the local health care system,” the agreement states.

During the visit, Wise interviewed Anadis’s mother, Mabel Alvarez Benedix. She told the Associated Press that her staff had taken her plea for hospitalization of her medically vulnerable daughter because she had pain in her bones, had trouble breathing and was unable to walk. repeatedly ignored, she said.

Benedix said her representatives said her daughter’s flu diagnosis did not require hospitalization. Her mother said she knew the girl had a history of heart disease, but she had been told to come back if she passed out.

Acting CBP Director Troy Miller then ordered a search of all medically infirm detainees to ensure limited detention time. Wise said he had spoken to US officials, including medical staff, to raise concerns about his recent visit.

“At this time, I have sufficient information to make urgent recommendations to CBP (Department of Homeland Security) and the courts. I think the focus is mainly on the steps we should take to prevent it from happening,” he said.

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