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Border Patrol is taking medicine away from children, even as they are dying in custody

Agents are senselessly risking the lives of children who need medications like anti-seizure drugs.

By Emily Singer - June 06, 2019
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Customs and Border Patrol officials are confiscating critical medicines for children detained at the border, Yahoo News reported on Thursday.

The news comes amid reports that at least seven children have died in U.S. custody at the border — and that U.S. officials covered up the death of one 10-year-old girl for months.

According to Yahoo’s report, doctors who treat children detained at the border say they’ve seen egregious examples of children who have had their medicines confiscated, including an 8- or 9-year-old boy who had his anti-seizure medicine taken.

Dr. Eric Russell, who volunteers at a center treating asylum-seekers who have been released from custody, says it’s unclear how long the boy went without his anti-seizure medicine — but that even if it was just a day or two, “that’s enough” to have triggered a deadly seizure.

“My concern is, what’s going to happen if you put a 9-year-old child who has a history of seizures, without any seizure medicine on a bus for 3 days … is that he’s going to have a seizure,” Russell told Yahoo News.

Russell said that the practice of confiscating medicines could lead to serious injury, or even death.

“At the end of the day, as a medical provider, as a physician, we take an oath to first do no harm,” Russell told Yahoo News. “And taking somebody’s medications seems like it’s causing harm.”

A Border Patrol official said taking medicines from detained migrants is standard procedure if the detained person doesn’t have proof that the medicine was prescribed by a medical professional.

The official said that they take only unidentified medicines out of safety for migrants, to ensure they are not illicit substances, and that it’s “clearly not true” that life-saving medicines are being taken away.

But another doctor interviewed by Yahoo News, Carlos Gutierrez, said that explanation is “bullshit.”

Gutierrez told Yahoo News that he recently treated a 10-year-old girl who needed steroids to treat congenital adrenal hyperplasia. He said her life-saving steroids had been confiscated, along with other necessary medicines she had. Without her medicines, Gutierrez said she could have gotten an infection like a cold that would have killed her.

“You can ask providers who care for them day in and day out,” Gutierrez, a pediatrician who treats asylum seekers in Texas, told Yahoo News. “We know that the medicines are taken away.”

This is just the latest report of detained children being treated horribly in U.S. custody.

A Washington Post report from Wednesday said that the Trump administration is now cutting funds that pay for services allowing detained migrant children to receive educational and recreational services.

The cruelty the Trump administration is inflicting upon migrants, including kids, seeking safety in the U.S. is hard to witness. But every new report like this adds to the well-established case that for Trump and his team, cruelty is the goal.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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