A report released Tuesday revealed that the death of an 8-year-old girl in Border Patrol custody was “preventable," and a result of the agency's "failures."
Anadith Danay Reyes Álvarez died in May after suffering a “medical emergency." Originally born to Honduran parents in Panama, Álvarez was also born with congenital heart disease and sickle cell anemia. She and her family were being detained in Harlingen, Texas near the Mexican border at the time of her death.
Álvarez had “not been feeling well” during their travels and had been diagnosed with the flu. Her mother had reported taken her to authorities several times with complaints of “shortness of breath" and backpains. When she finally saw medical staff, they sent her to the hospital, where she died in the waiting room.
According to the new report, Álvarez's death was a “preventable tragedy that resulted from a series of failures in the [Customs and Border Protection’s] medical and custodial systems for children.”
“The failure to consult a physician or a local health facility for more extensive testing raises fundamental concerns regarding the ability of the CBP medical system to care appropriately for children at elevated medical risk,” the report states.
The report found no evidence that the healthcare provider who diagnosed Álvarez with the flu consulted an on-call physician, or that they “contemplated” transferring her to a healthcare facility. On the day of her daughter’s death, Álvarez's mother asked for an ambulance three to four times, noting Anadith's condition was “deteriorating,” but none were called.
An ambulance was only summoned after Álvarez lost consciousness and suffered cardiac arrest.
“These failures occurred at multiple levels and should not be viewed as rare anomalies but rather as systemic weaknesses that if not remedied, are likely to result in future harm to children in CBP custody,” the report reads.