A 29-year-old Honduran mother of two died while in the custody of a Biden administration migrant detention center after she crossed the border from Mexico into Texas. The woman had no apparent illness or other affliction prior to being found unresponsive in her cell.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are investigating the in-custody death of a Honduran migrant woman who died from as-yet-unknown causes less than one day after she crossed into the United States from Mexico. Officials claim the woman had no apparent illnesses or medical conditions at multiple medical screenings during her time in custody.
During this period, Border Patrol officials averaged approximately 20,000 migrants in custody each day, according to a source within CBP. Officials do not discuss the overcrowding in the official statement released on September 1. The massive increase in Family Unit apprehensions in recent months adds to the processing time in these already overcrowded facilities, Breitbart Texas’ Randy Clark reported. In July, agents apprehended 60,000 migrant families — nearly doubling June’s total of 31,266. By the end of August, that number jumped to more than 91,000.
Medical staff at these facilities face a wide variety of conditions facing migrants crossing the border. Earlier this week, CBP medical screening staff were unable to diagnose a migrant reporting a locked jaw condition. After transporting the migrant to a hospital, the doctors diagnosed the migrant with tetanus. The CBP medical staff said they had never seen that, according to a CBP source.
CBP officials report the Honduran woman crossed the border with her two children (ages four and six) and was apprehended as part of 15 migrants on Sunday, August 27 at about 8:30 p.m. The group crossed illegally between the Hidalgo and Anzalduas Ports of Entry and were taken into custody by McAllen Station agents. Approximately 10 minutes later, Border Patrol contractors bused the group to the Donna, Texas, Processing Center where they completed processing at about 11 p.m. Sunday night.
CBP officials offered the following timeline of events leading to the woman’s death:
A review of agency records by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) indicates that, while at the Donna Processing Facility, the woman and her children were medically screened and were cleared for travel. The records do not indicate that any medical issues were identified for the woman, nor that she experienced any medical issues while at the DPF.
On Monday, August 28, 2023, at approximately 7:17 a.m., the woman and her children were transported from the Donna Processing Facility to the Harlingen Border Patrol Station for further processing. The woman and her children arrived at Harlingen Station at 8:02 a.m. on a bus along with approximately 40 other noncitizens. OPR reviewed video footage and determined the non-citizens were lined up alongside the bus in the sally port area and the sole medical provider on-duty, a CBP-contracted EMT-Basic, systematically conducted medical screenings of each noncitizen. There is no indication from the video review that the woman expressed any concerns or that she appeared to be in distress during the medical screening process. The medical screening process concluded at 8:20 a.m., and the group entered Harlingen Station at 8:23 a.m. After entering the station, the woman can be seen picking up boxed meals and entering a cell along with her children and approximately 34 other noncitizens at approximately 8:25 a.m. The woman is not seen on video again until approximately 11:45 a.m. when she steps out of the cell briefly to retrieve three meal boxes.
Because of intermittent system outages in the e3 detention module, which took place during the duration of this incident, certain events such as welfare checks were entered retroactively based on the recollection of the personnel involved. To ensure accurate reporting, CBP OPR reviewed video footage for the duration of time the woman was in custody at Harlingen Station. This revealed that BPAs conducted visual checks by looking into the window of her cell at 8:55 a.m., 9:19 a.m., 9:57 a.m., 10:37 a.m., 11:42 a.m., 12:36 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 1:52 p.m. At 3:18 p.m. a BPA opened the door of the cell and spoke with a noncitizen briefly.
At approximately 3:58 p.m., BPAs approached the cell with meals for the noncitizens and opened the cell door. At this point, the noncitizens in the cell began to assemble to get their meals. Shortly thereafter, a noncitizen adult female called out to BPAs. Two BPAs entered the cell and checked on the woman. At 3:59 p.m., a BPA stepped out of the cell and called out for assistance. Approximately 20 seconds later, the CBP-contracted EMT ran into the cell.
Interviews of BPAs and the contracted EMT who initially treated the woman indicated she was found on a mat on the cell floor covered with a mylar blanket and that her skin appeared to be discolored and cold to the touch. BPAs and the CBP-contracted EMT immediately checked her vital signs, requested emergency medical services, initiated CPR, and applied an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The AED did not advise to deliver a shock for the duration of the CPR, though it did continue to issue auditory prompts and perform checks for cardiac activity for the duration of the resuscitation efforts.
CBP personnel continued CPR with the assistance of the AED until the arrival of a South Texas Emergency Care (STEC) ambulance to HRL at 4:12 p.m. STEC personnel assumed responsibility for the woman’s care and departed HRL for Valley Baptist Medical Center (VBMC), Harlingen, TX, at approximately 4:31 p.m. The woman was officially declared deceased by a physician at the VBMC emergency room at 4:50 p.m.
The woman’s cellmate indicated they did not observe the woman being in medical distress prior to her being found unresponsive. The cellmates attempted to wake her for the morning food distribution. They immediately summoned Border Patrol officials for assistance, the statement claims.
The Cameron County Medical Examiner’s Office carried out an autopsy on August 30. The results of the autopsy have not yet been released.
The incident is under investigation by the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility. Officials also notified the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.
CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller released the following statement:
The health and safety of individuals in our custody, our workforce, and communities we serve is a top priority. CBP is dedicated to the ongoing review and evaluation of our practices to ensure that all individuals in our custody receive the best possible care. We continue to improve the efficiency of our processing capabilities in support of CBP detention standards, which have significantly reduced the average time of families in custody.
As we await the outcome of the investigation into this terrible incident, CBP will continue to evaluate detention procedures, medical procedures, and medical providers for ways to further improve our standards. We will make the results of the OPR investigation public, consistent with our commitment to transparency and accountability. We will look to the results of this investigation for additional steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those in our custody, as needed.
Processing centers in many of the southwest border sectors are packed beyond legal capacity, a source operating under the umbrella of CBP told Breitbart Texas recently. During the month of August, Rio Grande Valley Sector agents apprehended approximately 1,500 migrants per day, Breitbart Texas reported.
Bob Price is the Breitbart Texas-Border team’s associate editor and senior news contributor. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.