A five-month-old baby's diagnosis of pneumonia is bringing more attention to the conditions in which immigrants are held after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, days after another child died in U.S. custody.
The news of the baby's illness was met with condemnation by children's rights advocates and other critics of the U.S. government's border policies.
The girl’s mother said her daughter got increasingly sick after being held in "freezing" cells. This is more evidence that detention can seriously harm children’s health https://t.co/lPD5dYbJcD
— Lumos (@lumos) December 20, 2018
What dehumanization brings. You can only treat a baby this way if you don’t see people Iike them as fully human: A 5-Month-Old Girl Has Been Hospitalized With Pneumonia After Being Detained By Border Patrol https://t.co/cUWzWQEjyX
— Carole V. Bell (@BellCV) December 20, 2018
The baby's condition is the third case of a child falling ill while in U.S. custody that's been publicized in the past several days—causing alarm among critics who have denounced the secrecy with which immigration authorities are operating at the border.
A 6 yo asylum seeker nearly died of cardiac arrest in Nov. after having been taken into custody by CBP. A 5 month old is being treated for pneumonia after being held in a CBP “icebox” cell. A 7 yo died in CBP custody. Those are just the ones we’ve learned about the last 10 days
— john r stanton (@dcbigjohn) December 19, 2018
Fleeing domestic and gang violence, the baby's mother brought her daughter with her from Honduras when she joined the group of migrants that arrived at the U.S. border last month. The baby became ill en route but was given antibiotics after her mother sought medical care during a stop in Mexico City.
According to NBC News, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents took the medicine away from the mother when they apprehended her after she crossed a border fence, placing her and her baby in a cold cell that families are routinely held in after being detained.
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The only drinking water available to people in hielera is "gray and it's disgusting," wrote Bogado. "It routinely makes people sick. There isn't even a place to dry your hands after you wash them. Everything is full of fecal matter."
The baby became ill again over the two days she was forced to stay in the hielera, but the mother was reportedly dismissed by CBP agents as an "invader" who "no one told to cross" into the U.S.
The mother was eventually granted asylum after several days in detention in San Diego, and flew to North Carolina where she has family.
"By the time I arrived in North Carolina, my daughter had a fever," she told NBC. She has been hospitalized with pneumonia there.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was among those who called for a congressional investigation into the conditions in which families are kept after crossing.
We need a full congressional investigation into CBP and the hieleras. And CBP *must* allow lawyers, journalists and members of congress to tour and examine the facilities. https://t.co/OCeiE9cyv5
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) December 19, 2018
Keeping a sick 5-month-old in a freezing cell day after day? Withholding medical help? Awful. Treating children in this horrific way is NOT who we are as a nation. We need oversight and accountability and much improved care.https://t.co/03D8x1NeI9
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 20, 2018