The US government is currently investigating the death of a 17-year-old migrant boy from Honduras. Angel Eduardo Maradiago Espinoza was reported to have died in a government shelter run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which shelters unaccompanied migrant kids in Florida.
The Honduran Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Enrique Reina, said Espinoza died in government custody and that his death should be investigated. The HSS confirmed the boy’s death and revealed that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) which shelters migrant children that are unaccompanied into the US is investigating the cause of death.
“The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our heart goes out to the family, with whom we are in touch,” HHS stated. “As is standard practice for any situation involving the death of an unaccompanied child or a serious health outcome, HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Division of Health for Unaccompanied Children (DHUC) is reviewing all clinical details of this case, including all inpatient health care records. A medical examiner investigation is underway.”
The HHS said migrant children who enter the US without parents or guardians are kept in the custody of the ORR until they turn 18 or are taken in by a sponsor or family member. While they are in government custody, they are given “access to health care, legal services, translation services, and mental and behavioral health counselors and are able to connect with family through a phone call in a private area at a minimum of twice a week.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the government is saddened by Espinoza’s death. “We are certainly aware of the tragic loss, and our hearts go out to the family,” she said. She said President Joe Biden is passionate about the welfare of migrants and wants them to be treated with dignity.
“Over the last year, six children have tragically died in U.S. custody at the border,” Biden said in 2019. “It’s unacceptable. It’s not who we are. And silence is complicity. It’s on all of us to stand up and speak out. America is a nation of immigrants. We must guarantee everyone’s treated with dignity.”
As of this week, 8,861 unaccompanied migrant children are in government care.