A Guatemalan minor dies in immigration custody in the US

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A 15-year-old migrant from Guatemala died Monday of an underlying illness while in federal custody in the United States, authorities said.

This is the fourth death of a minor in US government custody this year.

The girl was hospitalized at El Paso Children's Hospital for a significant pre-existing condition when the Department of Homeland Security referred her to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in May, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Tuesday.

The girl received medical treatment "in accordance with the mother's wishes and in line with the recommendations of the hospital's health care team," the statement said.

The girl's condition deteriorated Friday and she died Monday as a result of multiple organ failure due to an underlying condition, authorities said. Authorities said her mother and her brother were with her when she passed away and in the days leading up to it.

Authorities did not release the girl's name or say when she entered the country.

In May, a 17-year-old Honduran youth died in US custody. Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza died at a detention center in Safety Harbor, Florida. His mother said his son had epilepsy, but he did not show signs of being seriously ill before he left for the United States.

Days later, an 8-year-old Panamanian girl who had a history of heart problems and sickle cell disease died while she and her family were in Border Patrol custody in Harlingen, Texas. Anadith's mother Danay Reyes Alvarez said officers repeatedly ignored pleas to hospitalize Anadith because her daughter had pain in her bones, was having trouble breathing and was unable to walk.

In March, a 4-year-old “medically fragile unaccompanied child from Honduras” died at a hospital in Michigan, according to a Health and Human Services statement at the time.

The deaths raised questions and scrutiny about the readiness of US agents to handle medical emergencies for migrants in their custody.

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Nathan Rivera
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