Migrant Deaths, Abuses Continue to Mount - Define American

Featured Blog post

Migrant Deaths, Abuses Continue to Mount

Make sure readers and viewers understand the scale of abuse and mismanagement in immigrant detention centers.

NBC News revealed yesterday that children who were separated from their families and held for extended periods of time were also detained in vans for up to two days before being handed back to their parents and guardians. This is one more horrifying revelation in a long list of migrant deaths, abuses, and illegal treatment at the hands of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.

When reporting on these tragedies, readers should be informed of the full scale and scope of government malfeasance involved.

“The real crisis at the border is the federal government’s inability to humanely care for migrants in its charge,” said Define American executive director Rev. Ryan Eller. “The people — fellow human beings — seeking a better life here, deserve professional medical care, adequate housing, and speedy resolution of their immigration cases. The rampant use of detention for peaceful migrants and the terrible conditions of their detention are a moral stain on our nation’s long history of welcoming the stranger.”

Immigrant detention center cell in El Paso, Texas.
Office of Inspector General image of overcrowded immigrant detention center in El Paso.

A partial list of deaths and abuses of migrants in Department of Homeland Security custody since January 2018, as reported by various media outlets:

October 2014 – July 2018

Office of Refugee Resettlement received 4,556 allegations of sexual abuse or harassment against unaccompanied minors in government custody.

Jan 2018 – May 2019

At least 14 migrants died in adult detention centers, according to an American Immigration Lawyer’s Association list. And NBC News investigated 22 immigrant deaths during the first two years of the Trump administration.

May 25, 2018, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Roxsana Hernandez, 33, Honduras, died of complications associated with HIV.

July 15, 2018, Port Isabel Detention Center, Los Fresnos, Texas

37 children held in vans in a parking lot for 11-39 hours, waiting to be reunited with family.

Sept. 29, 2018, Children’s Hospital of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska

Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, 10, El Salvador, died of fever and respiratory distress.

Dec. 8, 2018, El Paso, Texas

Jakelin Caal Maquín, 7, Guatemala, died of sepsis and organ failures.

Dec. 24, 2018, Alamogordo, N.M.

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, Guatemala, died of lung infection.

April 30, 2019, Casa Padre, Brownsville, Texas

Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16, Guatemala, died of brain infection.

May 14, 2019, Providence Children’s Hospital, El Paso, Texas

Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 2½, Guatemala, died of possible pneumonia complications.

May 20, 2019, Weslaco, Texas

Carlos Hernandez Vásquez, 16, Guatemala, of possible flu complications.

May 30, 2019, El Paso del Norte, El Paso, Texas

Office of the Inspector General finds massive overcrowding at a detention center in El Paso. Abuses include holding people in standing room only cells for weeks at a time, unsanitary conditions, and dangerous overcrowding.

June 2, 2019, Near Roma, Texas

Unidentified 33-year-old Salvadoran man died after a seizure in Border Patrol custody.

June 3, 2019, Del Sol Medical Center, El Paso, Texas

Johana Medina Leon, 25, El Salvador, died after complaining of chest pains.

Let's Talk

Create change, one story at a time.