Don’t Turn Away: Carlos Deserved Better - Define American

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Don’t Turn Away: Carlos Deserved Better

Eight suggestions for digging deep and telling the full story of the recent deaths of five Guatemalan children in DHS custody.

Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, the 16-year-old boy who died in Border Patrol custody while trying to reunite with family members in the United States, was a soccer player, a musician who played bass and piano, and a healthy young man, his family told a Guatemalan television station. He was also venturing north from the Guatemalan Highlands district of Baja Verapaz to support his siblings, one of whom is disabled.

His parents called him Goyito. He was from an indigenous family, as were all of the children who have died in U.S. custody since December.

[Tweet above is from Guatemalan television, picked up by Telemundo: Statements from the family of Carlos Gregorio Hernández Vásquez, the fifth minor who has died under Border Patrol custody.]

We at Define American think that Carlos’s story and the way that five indigenous Guatemalan children have come to die in U.S. custody since December is the most important story on the immigration beat right now. Prisoners, including migrants, have a Constitutional right to a reasonable expectation of health care. This is guaranteed by 8th Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. Don’t get distracted. The inability of DHS to handle the medical care of migrants in its charge should be on the front page of every paper and on all the news programs until rectified.

Barry Sussman, who was the key editor on the Watergate stories at the Washington Post, recently told the New Republic that the media has to stop letting Trump set the agenda.

“When he changes the subject, they change the subject. They follow him wherever he goes. He leads the press around by the nose,” Sussman said.

That includes immigration stories, which is Trump’s go-to wag-the-dog tactic.

“Just because Trump wants people to pay attention to immigration doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. We just don’t have to pay attention to him on immigration,” Sussman said.

Sussman advises the press to focus on the issues, and only if there is time left, to cover the president. The death of five children in federal custody is the issue right now.

Here are eight questions that need to be answered about the death of migrants in detention, before the president gets any more coverage for his poorly conceived immigration reform outline, his trumped-up immigration czar concept, or the racist themes he’s embraced at his rallies for years now.

-Who are the five children who have died? Where are their families? What drove them to migrate and what can Americans learn from their tragic stories?

-Why are we now jailing 52,000 people, more people than Congress has authorized? Where are these jails, who owns them, and how much is it costing?

-What conditions are international monitors such as the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders, International Rescue Committee, and other experts in international migration finding at U.S. border facilities?

-What are the consequences of rampant use of solitary confinement at DHS facilities?

-What medical facilities and expertise does DHS have?

-How many of the people in detention are seeking asylum? Why are they being held?

-What is our duty of care for people in detention?

-Why are children from indigenous families the ones dying?

If five children died in detention in your state, don’t you think people would demand these same kinds of answers?

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