CBP: Nurse denied hospital requests for 8-year-old girl who died at border facility
Border Patrol agents and medical personnel contacted by the agency declined to transfer the girl to the hospital despite her being noticeably sick
June 5, 2023 7:21am
Updated: June 5, 2023 7:21am
Federal investigators claimed on Thursday that a nurse denied several requests to take a sick 8-year-old migrant girl to the hospital hours before she died in U.S. Border Patrol custody in Texas earlier this month.
The migrant girl, Anadith Tanay Reyez Alvarez born in Panama to Honduran parents, died on May 17, a week after her family was placed in Border Patrol Custody in Harlingen, Texas.
While her death is being investigated by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Professional Responsibility, preliminary investigations have raised questions about the actions taken that led to her death.
It is unclear why Reyes Alvarez was not transferred to a hospital despite having sought medical attention multiple times.
In a statement released on Thursday, the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility confirmed that Border Patrol agents and medical personnel contacted by the agency declined to transfer the girl to the hospital despite her being noticeably sick.
Reyes Alvarez was examined by the medical staff at least nine separate times between Mat 14 and May 17. On the day she died alone, she was seen by a nurse four times.
The migrant girl had tested positive for the flu and had symptoms including pain, nausea, difficulty breathing, and high fever. Additionally, many of the visits were not recorded by medical contractors.
"Despite the girl's condition, her mother's concerns, and the series of treatments required to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care," the CBP investigators said.
Reyes Alvarez suffered from sickle cell anemia and had a history of congenital heart disease—two conditions that were unknown to the staff. During the final visit to the nurse on a fateful day, Reyes Alvarez’s mother brought the girl over when she was having a seizure. Only then were emergency services called, but the migrant girl died within the hour.
"They killed my daughter because she was nearly a day and a half without being able to breathe," her mother said. "She cried and begged for her life and they ignored her. They didn't do anything for her."
It is also unclear why her family was held in Border Patrol custody for so long. Agency policy states that detainees can be held for no longer than three days.
Acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller called Reyes Alvarez's death an unacceptable tragedy, saying the agency would work to "do better to ensure this never happens again."