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Fifth Migrant Child Since December Dies in Border Patrol Custody

Migrants from Honduras walk next to the border fence as they prepare to cross it illegally, in Tijuana, Mexico, December 27, 2018. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala passed away Monday after being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, the fifth migrant child to die in Border Patrol custody since December, according to CBP.

“The men and women of CBP are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family,” read a statement from acting CBP commissioner John Sanders. “CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody.”

Customs and Border Protection said that the boy crossed the southern border illegally, and was arrested on May 13 near Hidalgo, Texas and placed in Border Patrol’s Weslaco Station in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.

“Yet another child has died in US government custody,” said Ashley Houghton, tactical-campaigns manager at Amnesty International USA. “This death, which comes days after the administration released a proposal to make it even more difficult for people to seek safety in this country, leads us to wonder how many deaths it will take for the administration to ensure the safety and security of children.”

Amnesty International, which advocates for undocumented immigrants, called for an independent investigation into the child’s death and demanded the Trump administration end the detention of minors, saying, “it is dangerous and cruel to detain people, particularly children, in crowded and unsanitary conditions for seeking protection.”

After border authorities faced severe backlash when a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died in their custody in December, the Department of Homeland Security said it was “begging” parents not to bring their children across the border illegally.

Apprehensions at the southern border have spiked this year. 8,975 unaccompanied children and a record 53,077 family units crossed the border without authorization in March.

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