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Guatemalan Boy, 16, Dies in Border Patrol Custody

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A Guatemalan boy died Monday in U.S. Border Patrol custody. The 16-year-old boy is the fifth child to die after crossing the border illegally in the past six months; four of them have died in U.S. government custody, reports the Wall Street Journal. Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was found unresponsive at a Border Patrol station in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. Carlos was traveling without his parents and was taken into custody May 13 near Hidalgo, Tx., in a group of 70 people who crossed the Rio Grande illegally. CBP said Carlos was diagnosed with the flu on Sunday and prescribed Tamiflu before being transferred from a processing center in McAllen to the station in nearby Weslaco on Sunday.

Under federal law, unaccompanied immigrant children can be held in Border Patrol facilities for up to 72 hours. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said in the vast majority of cases HHS had been able to assign unaccompanied kids to a shelter within 72 hours of determining that a child was unaccompanied. Cases that took longer generally involved unique health issues or sibling group placement. Two Guatemalan children traveling with their fathers died in Border Patrol custody in December. A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy being cared for by HHS died at a Texas hospital last month. This month, a 2-year-old Guatemalan boy died after spending weeks in the intensive care unit of a Texas hospital. More than 248,000 immigrants traveling as families and more than 44,000 unaccompanied children, many fleeing gang violence in Central America, have been caught crossing the border illegally since Oct. 1.

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