A little girl named Anadith Tanay Reyes Alvarez died of a “medical emergency” while in Border Patrol custody. This is the second death of a child in U.S. government custody in two weeks. Her tragic death highlights the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, as desperate people continue to seek refuge in the U.S. Despite the failure of consecutive U.S. administrations to reform the dysfunctional and outdated immigration and asylum system, the Biden administration lifted Title 42, a Trump-era policy, on May 12, 2023. This article will explore the circumstances of Anadith’s death and the broader context of the humanitarian crisis.
Anadith’s Death and the Response
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Anadith died following a “medical emergency” while held with her family at a detention facility in Harlingen, Texas. Emergency medical services were called, and Anadith was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead. This tragic news sparked outrage and calls for accountability from activists, lawmakers, and the public.
The Larger Pattern of Deaths in Custody
Anadith’s death is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger pattern of deaths in Border Patrol custody. On May 10, 2023, Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza, a 17-year-old from Honduras, died in a facility for unaccompanied children in Florida. The Honduran government has called for a full investigation, including prosecutions if there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Earlier this year, a 4-year-old “medically fragile unaccompanied child from Honduras” died in a hospital in Michigan, according to the Health and Human Services Department.
The Border Patrol’s Overcrowding and Overburdened Medical System
The Border Patrol’s parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has struggled with overcrowding at its facilities, spurred by a large increase in migrants. The COVID-19 pandemic-related asylum restrictions exacerbated this situation, leading to double the number of people in custody within two weeks. In the case of Anadith, the child was reportedly born with a heart problem and underwent surgery three years before. Her father told the Honduran Consul José Leonardo Navas that her daughter’s medical condition worsened while in custody.
Theorizing the Scale of the Humanitarian Crisis
The scope of the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is difficult to measure, but organizations such as Amnesty International USA and the American Friends Service Committee’s U.S.-Mexico border program are working on the ground to assess the conditions and provide support. According to Amy Fischer, the director of Refugee and Migrant Rights at Amnesty International USA, “almost everyone” they saw on the Mexico side of the border “had some type of health condition that they were dealing with.”
The Concerns and Criticisms from Advocates and Critics
The release of migrants in the U.S. without notices to appear in immigration court, instead directing them to report to an immigration office within 60 days, has sparked concerns and criticisms. Advocates argue that this move will further burden a system that is already overburdened and underfunded. Critics contend that this policy fuels the perception that migrating to the U.S. is easy and does not provide adequate scrutiny of individuals’ backgrounds or intentions.
The Need for a Comprehensive Approach to the Crisis
The border crisis is complex and multidimensional, requiring a comprehensive approach to address the underlying issues. This includes an overhaul of the immigration and asylum system, investment in the health and welfare of migrants, and regional collaboration to address the root causes of migration. Without a comprehensive approach, the humanitarian crisis will continue to worsen, with human lives at stake.
Anadith’s death is the latest tragedy in the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. The dysfunctional and outdated immigration and asylum system, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to an overcrowding of facilities and overburdened medical care. Advocates and critics have called for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying issues, including an overhaul of the immigration and asylum system, investment in the health and welfare of migrants, and regional collaboration to address the root causes of migration. The human cost of the crisis is high, and without urgent action, it will continue to worsen.
1. What is Title 42, and why was it lifted?
Title 42 was a Trump-era policy that used the pandemic to stop most migration at the border on public health grounds. The Biden administration lifted Title 42 on May 12, 2023. The policy was criticized for denying people the right to apply for asylum and returning them to the dangerous conditions they were fleeing.
2. What is the Honduran government’s response to the deaths in U.S. custody?
The Honduran government has called for a full investigation, including prosecutions if there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Honduras is one of the countries with the highest number of migrants leaving due to violence, poverty, and political instability.
3. What should be done to address the humanitarian crisis?
A comprehensive approach is needed to address the underlying issues, including an overhaul of the immigration and asylum system, investment in the health and welfare of migrants, and regional collaboration to address the root causes of migration. The crisis cannot be solved by one policy or one country alone.
4. What is the role of human rights organizations in addressing the crisis?
Human rights organizations are working on the ground to assess the conditions and provide support to migrants. They also advocate for policies and actions that uphold human rights and protect the dignity and well-being of all individuals, regardless of their status.
5. What are the consequences of not addressing the humanitarian crisis?
The consequences of not addressing the humanitarian crisis are high, with human lives at stake. The crisis also has broader implications for regional stability, international cooperation, and human rights. Urgent action is needed to address the underlying issues and prevent further harm.