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Why are children dying in immigration detention centers?

Most Louisiana residents, and others across the country who follow U.S. news headlines, are aware that tens of thousands of immigrants have been traveling to the nation’s borders, in the hope of escaping lives of poverty and danger in exchange for safer and better futures for themselves and their families. The problem is that not every immigrant achieves his or her goals, and in many situations, it is because they or their family members suffer injury, illness or death while being held in immigration detention facilities. Recently, several children have died in such places, prompting U.S. Customs and Border Protection to order medical evaluations of every child in its custody.

Sadly, two children, both from Guatemala, recently suffered high fevers and then died while living in holding cells with their fathers. One, a 7-year-old girl, was revived twice by emergency workers, then died one day after being flown to a hospital for more care. The other child, an 8-year-old boy, had shown signs of illness and was supposedly checked by hospital workers and diagnosed with a common cold.

Witnesses say the boy began to vomit after being sent back to the detention center and suffered a high fever. Immigration officers claim the child’s father refused further medical assistance for his son. They also say that, at one point, they made the decision to transport the child back to the hospital in spite of his father’s refusal. The child did not survive.

Many immigrant advocates in Louisiana and beyond want to know why children are dying in U.S. immigration detention centers when officials are tasked with making sure detainees receive proper medical care. Being detained as an immigrant does not mean that one has no personal rights. Immigrant parents who believe their children have received substandard care may want to discuss their situations with experienced immigration law attorneys.