Death of 8-Year-old Girl in Border Patrol Custody Was Preventable, CBP Official Says 

By Steve Neavling

The death of an 8-year-old girl in Border Patrol custody was preventable if officials had reacted differently to her parent’s pleas for medical intervention, a government officials told CBS News

Anadith Dana Reyes Alvarez, who had sickle cell anemia and a heart condition, had spent more than a week at Border Patrol facilities near the Texas border before she died on May 17. In the days after she arrived in custody, the girl complained of abdominal pain, exhibited respiratory symptoms, and tested positive for the flu. 

While in isolation at a facility in Harlington, Texas, with her mother and sister, Anadith was treated with ice packs, fever and flu medication, and cold showers, even as her condition continued to worsen. Despite having a more than 104-degree fever and pleas from her family to be transferred to a hospital, she remained in lockup. 

Despite agency rules that generally limit detention to 72 hours, the family was held for more than a week. 

Her death prompted a federal investigation and an interview review. 

A CBP officials told CBS that it was his “clinical opinion that were she treated differently that she would be alive today.” 

“They told me no,” Mabel Alvarez, Anadith’s mother, told CBS News. “They wouldn’t call an ambulance until she passed out — not before.”

“A Border Patrol agent didn’t believe me. He stood in front of my daughter and told her, ‘Tell me how you can’t breathe because a girl that can’t breathe would be passing out and you’re not passing out, you’re fine,’” Alvarez added.

Anadith was finally taken to a hospital on May 17, the day she died. She was seizing and became unresponsive. 

According to a separate CBP report, the nurse practitioner treating Anadith “reported denying three or four requests from the girl’s mother for an ambulance to be called or for her to be taken to the hospital.” 

Less than an hour after the ambulance called, Anadith was dead. 

An independent federal court monitor on Tuesday called her death “clearly preventable” and the result of “a series of failures” by staff and contractors. 

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