Tragic death of 8-year-old Honduran girl in US custody exposes medical negligence

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8-Year-Old Girl Who Died in Border Patrol Custody Laid to Rest

THE BRONX, UNITED STATES – Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez, the 8-year-old girl of Honduran parents who tragically died while in the custody of the Border Patrol (CBP), was buried this Saturday after a funeral service held in The Bronx, New York, United States.

The family confirmed that the girl was laid to rest on Saturday (June 17) in a cemetery in New Jersey.

Teddy bears, roses, and Minnie Mouse balloons adorned her coffin, while a small Honduran flag fluttered at one end of the funeral home where family and friends gathered to bid their final farewells.

Parents Demand Justice for Their Daughter

Hours before the funeral, Mabel Álvarez Benedicks and Rossel Reyes, the parents of Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez, issued a heartfelt statement expressing their determination to seek justice for their daughter.

“We will allow our baby to rest in peace. We demand justice for her and ensure that no one else has to endure such a tragedy,” the letter read.

How Did Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez Die?

The non-profit organizations Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) are representing the family and leading the investigation into the failures in medical care provided to Reyes Álvarez while she was in Border Patrol custody.

According to a report filed on June 1, Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez and her family were taken to the Border Patrol station in Harlingen, Texas, which had a medical isolation unit. During their three-day stay, the girl, who suffered from sickle cell anemia, received medical attention nine times for high fever, flu symptoms, stomach aches, nausea, and breathing difficulties.

Sickle cell anemia, as described by the Mayo Clinic, is an inherited disease that affects the shape of red blood cells and impairs blood flow. Immediate medical attention is recommended during a crisis.

The situation worsened for the girl as she was denied transfer to a hospital despite her fragile condition. Border Patrol admitted in a statement that despite her mother’s requests for transfer on multiple occasions, no action was taken, and she was only provided with symptomatic medication.

A week before her tragic death, Anadith Tanay’s family, consisting of five members, surrendered to border agents after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico.

Reactions to the Tragedy

The girl’s death has sparked scrutiny of the US government’s treatment of thousands of detained migrants. Here are some reactions:

“Despite the girl’s health problems, her mother’s concerns, and the series of treatments required to address her health condition, the contracted medical personnel failed to transfer her to a hospital for specialized care,” stated the Office of Professional Responsibility.

“What happened to Anadith was a tragedy resulting from a systemic reliance on detaining families and children who cross the border. The lack of supervision and access to lawyers during custody only exacerbates this issue. It is evident that Customs and Border Protection is not being held accountable,” said Kassandra González, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Beyond Borders program.

“Ana’s death could have been prevented if her and her mother’s pleas for medical attention had not been ignored while in CBP custody. When it comes to people of color, we must always fight to prove our humanity, and yet our humanity is denied,” added Guerline Jozef, co-founder and CEO of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

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