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Tragic Death of Kid in Border Custody Sparks Outrage

The death of an 8-year-old girl in Border Patrol custody prompts calls for justice and scrutiny of the U.S. government's care of detained migrants.

Death of Kid in Border Custody

New York City witnessed a poignant gathering as dozens of individuals came together to remember Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez, an 8-year-old girl who met a tragic fate while in Border Patrol custody. The solemn event featured balloons adorned with rainbows and Minnie Mouse, serving as a touching tribute to the young girl. Anadith’s family had been en route to New York City, but their journey across the southern U.S. border ended in heartbreak. The incident has sparked widespread attention and scrutiny regarding the care provided to detained migrants, shedding light on the U.S. government’s handling of such situations.

Anadith had a medical history that included heart problems and sickle cell anemia, information that had been communicated to Border Patrol medical personnel. However, an internal investigation revealed a troubling oversight: they had failed to review Anadith’s file before she suffered a fatal seizure on May 17, just nine days into the family’s custody. As mourners gathered to pay their respects, Anadith’s mother, Mabel Alvarez Benedicks, expressed her gratitude to the attendees and voiced her unwavering demand for justice.

Pastor Arnold Ciego, leading the gathering, underscored the family’s desperate search for a cure and medical assistance for Anadith. An emotional tribute unfolded as Anadith’s father, Rossel Reyes, shared cherished memories of his daughter. The family’s statement echoed their yearning for justice and their determination to prevent such devastating incidents from recurring.

Born in Panama, Anadith tragically passed away at a Border Patrol station in Harlingen, Texas. Prior to her death, she had tested positive for influenza while in custody. Disturbingly, her mother had alerted agents and staff about Anadith’s medical history, yet medical personnel declined to review her file, as outlined in a preliminary report from the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

In response to the tragic incident, the CBP has reassigned its chief medical officer and pledged to take comprehensive action across the agency. Anadith’s family embarked on their journey during a surge in illegal crossings as migrants rushed to beat the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions on seeking asylum.

The CBP report revealed a series of alarming symptoms Anadith experienced, including stomachaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, and a dangerously high fever. Shockingly, despite her deteriorating condition, contracted medical personnel failed to transfer her to a hospital for the advanced care she desperately needed. Dr. Paul H. Wise, a respected pediatrics professor from Stanford University, deemed Anadith’s death preventable and emphasized the critical importance of promptly sending ill children to hospitals, particularly those with chronic conditions.

Advocacy groups, including the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Haitian Bridge Alliance, are now advocating for an independent autopsy to ascertain the cause of Anadith’s untimely passing. The wake concluded with a soul-stirring performance by artists, leaving mourners moved and inspired. The family announced that Anadith would be laid to rest on Saturday in a New Jersey cemetery. The tragic loss of this young life serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for justice and comprehensive reform to protect the well-being of detained migrants.

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