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Rep. Jerrold Nadler and other Democrats are demanding to know why kids keep dying in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, even after Congress added nearly half a billion dollars to ease problems.


Five migrant children have died in the past six months after being taken into the custody of the CBP and the Border Patrol. Most recently, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died May 20, apparently of the flu, after being picked up by the Border Patrol a week earlier.

With surging numbers of migrant families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United States, Congress added $415 million to the budget for the Department of Homeland Security, earmarked for improving medical care, transportation, and CBP processing centers at the border.

In a letter to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan released Tuesday, Nadler (D-N.Y.) and other members of the House Judiciary Committee want to know what is still going wrong.

"We are concerned that these funds may have not been adequately used to address systemic issues that have contributed to the death of asylum-seeking children," says the letter. "The fact that deaths have continued to occur three months after such funding was issued is troubling."

Since the start of the year, various DHS officials have warned that the system is overwhelmed. Nearly 93,000 people were apprehended crossing the Southwest border in March, and 99,000 were taken into custody in April, according to CBP data.

Children are supposed to be shifted within 72 hours from the Border Patrol to the Office of Refugee Resettlement run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The boy who died most recently, Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vásquez, never made it that far in more than seven days. After he reported being ill, he was prescribed Tamiflu, but never taken to a hospital, officials said.

The lawmakers want McAleenan to look into everything from CBP’s general practices, training and staffing to any systemwide errors that could be causing children to die.

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