U.S. Border Patrol has temporarily shut down a migrant processing facility one day after a 16-year-old died after being diagnosed with the Influenza A virus at the facility.
In a statement released by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency said it would stop detaining people at the processing center, which is a converted warehouse that holds hundreds of parents and children in large, fenced-in pens located in McAllen, Texas.
CBP said, “a large number” of people in custody were found to have high fevers. The agency is working to provide medical treatment to all those with fevers.
Any migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley area will be held at other locations until the situation is cleared.
The teenager, Carlos Hernandez Vasquez from Guatemala, died after six days in detention at the McAllen facility. After Carlos was diagnosed with the flu on May 19, he was transported to a smaller border patrol station. He was found unresponsive on May 20.
Carlos was the fifth minor since December to die after being detained at a border facility.
Risks of immigration
Being detained at the border can pose serious health risks as unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants migrate to the United States, are apprehended, and detained in border patrol facilities.
U.S. Border Patrol facilities are not built to handle the number of people being detained as large caravans of Central Americans are rallied together by nongovernmental organizations that encourage them to make the long and dangerous treks to the United States.
For instance, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the CBP base forced closure of an indoor bathroom that migrants had been using in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, in December 2018, according to the Washington Examiner.
While border patrol agents are trained in handling and containing illnesses, problems are expected to arise due to challenges such as overcrowding and delays in processing, as well as adequate care for those who come with preexisting health issues.
Includes reporting by The Associated Press