Published: Thu, May 23, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Border Patrol: Fifth Guatemalan child dies in US immigration custody

Border Patrol: Fifth Guatemalan child dies in US immigration custody

Bowen, a 10-year Border Patrol veteran is accused of running over a 23-year-old Guatemalan migrant with his patrol auto before arresting him on December 3, 2017.

U.S. Border Patrol in the El Centro area of southern California said it began to drop migrants off at San Bernardino's Greyhound Station on Wednesday after it ran out of room to hold them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is temporarily suspending intake at the McAllen Central Processing Center, the largest migrant processing center in South Texas, after the outbreak of what the agency calls "a flu-related illness".

Vasquez crossed into the U.S. with a group of about 70 people and was transported to the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, to await transfer to the custody of the Health and Human Services Department, as is customary for unaccompanied minors.

Prosecutors say the texts show Bowen's frame of mind at the time of the assault and that they contradict his later insistence that didn't know he had hit the man and had struck him unintentionally.

"The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family", Sanders said. A CBP official said officers follow instructions from HHS in determining where and when to send apprehended kids.

Immigration authorities have struggled to manage a record flow of migrant families and children crossing the southwestern border this year, including almost 45,000 unaccompanied children in the past six months. "CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody", said CBP Acting Commissioner John Sanders.

The boy is the fifth Guatemalan child to die since December after being apprehended at the US border.

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Bowen pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to local media reports.

According to prosecutors, Bowen also sent a number of messages to Lonnie Ray Swartz, the agent acquitted last year of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the border shooting death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez.

Prosecutors Lori Price and Monica Ryan said that texts sent from Bowen's phone could provide a clear picture of the role the Border Patrol agent's apparent "disdain" for migrants possibly played in the incident. He was hospitalized in intensive care for several days before his death.

Immigration authorities have since ordered an increase of medical checks for children in their custody, with a focus on children under 10, amid an uptick of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border.

FILE - Central American migrants, part of a caravan hoping to reach the USA border, move on the road in Escuintla, Chiapas state, Mexico.

Trump administration officials have said they have passed a "breaking point" in the immigration detention system, with the numbers of parents and children crossing the border dramatically exceeding the capacity at facilities.

"It is unsafe and cruel to detain people, particularly children, in crowded and unsanitary conditions for seeking protection", the organization said.

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