Another migrant child died last September while being in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, a spokesman for the department has said.
The death of the 10-year-old girl was hidden from the public for over eight months, making it the sixth such death of a minor in federal custody. The death precedes that of the other five migrant children, CNN reports.
According to a statement by the department’s spokesman Mark Weber, the girl, known to have a hereditary heart defect, was in the office’s care in San Antonio since March of last year. She was in a coma after suffering surgery complications due to which she was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix and later to the Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
The girl died there as a result of fever and respiratory distress on September 29, the spokesperson added.
As to why the death was not reported at the time, Webber said “appropriate officials” had to be notified first, which the media was not among.
However, unlike the other five children, the 10-year-old girl already had health issues before being apprehended by federal authorities and died as a result of those.
Back in December, two migrant children died within weeks of each other, prompting border officials to introduce new procedures, including secondary medical checks on all minors in their custody. The latest recorded death at the border is that of a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy.
Customs and Border Protection said that the boy, Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, was apprehended on May 13, after which he was processed and sent to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday. The following morning the boy was found dead of unknown reasons.
Another young boy who had previously been in U.S. custody also died last week, although at the time of his death the boy was no longer in U.S. custody.