As Title 42 Expires, Officials Announce the Death of an Unaccompanied Migrant Child While in U.S. Custody

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Grim news on this first day since the Title 42 policies controlling the borders expired: An unaccompanied migrant child has died while in the custody of the U.S. government.


According to reports, 17-year-old Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza died at a government shelter for unaccompanied minors in Safety Harbor, Florida. Enrique Reina, the Honduran secretary of foreign affairs, identified the child as a native of Honduras who arrived in the United States without a parent or guardian. Reina demanded an “exhaustive investigation” into Espinoza’s unexplained death.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the death in a statement, saying they are “deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our heart goes out to the family, with whom we are in touch.” The message goes on to say:

As is standard practice for any situation involving the death of an unaccompanied child or a serious health outcome, HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Division of Health for Unaccompanied Children (DHUC) is reviewing all clinical details of this case, including all inpatient health care records. A medical examiner investigation is underway.

The HHS is withholding information on the deceased migrant youth, citing safety concerns.

Due to privacy and safety reasons, ORR cannot share further information on individual cases of children who have been in our care.

While in ORR care, children have access to health care, legal services, translation services, and mental and behavioral health counselors and are able to connect with family through a phone call in a private area at a minimum of twice a week.


Reporters who took part earlier today in a virtual call about the border were unable to get any answers about the death because they had to submit written questions in advance and administration officials on the call seemingly cherry-picked the topics they would willingly address. HHS finally released a statement acknowledging the boy’s passing, while providing very few details.

In her daily briefing today, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she was unaware if President Biden had been notified of the death that took place under his watch.

The issue of migrant child deaths while in U.S. custody was important to candidate Joe Biden back in 2019. His disgust was evident in this tweet:


Senator Ted Cruz just yesterday highlighted the plight of migrant teenagers who are streaming over the border, saying boys, in particular, face unsure futures as the Biden administration deposits them around the country. Cruz rebuked members of the media who refuse to cover such stories and said they should “be ashamed.”


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