“In our professional medical opinion, this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly of children.”
| L.A. Times, HOUSTON — Doctors are pressuring U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow them to vaccinate detained migrant children against the flu after several died of the disease in federal custody during the past year.
The agency has yet to respond to an offer this week to vaccinate 100 migrant parents and children in Border Patrol detention in San Ysidro.
The group of seven doctors also offered to send volunteers to vaccinate migrants at Border Patrol holding areas across the country “to prevent a possible flu epidemic,” calling unsanitary detention conditions “cause for significant alarm.”
The doctors sent a letter to the chiefs of U.S. Homeland Security and Health and Human Services earlier this month noting that the flu mortality rate among migrant children in Border Patrol custody was nine times that of the general population last year and giving them until Tuesday to respond to their offer. By late Tuesday, there was no indication Border Patrol would accept.
“In our professional medical opinion,” the doctors wrote, “this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly of children.”
Three youths — ages 2, 6 and 16 — died in Border Patrol custody of the flu during the federal fiscal year that ended in September.
The deaths came as the number of migrant children and families in federal custody reached a record high.
The number of migrant family members and children arriving at the border has decreased each of the past five months after spiking last year but still remains higher than in the past.
Last month, for the first time in a year, Border Patrol caught more single adults [22,863] than family members [9,733] crossing the border illegally.
But that was still twice the number of family members they caught in 2017, before last year’s surge.