Migrant teen dies while in custody in Florida

  • A teen reportedly died in a Florida shelter for unaccompanied minor migrants
  • He was pronounced dead at a hospital after resuscitation attempts failed
  • An investigation into the cause of his death is being conducted

Migrants camp out next to the border barrier between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

(NewsNation) — A teenager reportedly died after being in custody in a Safety Harbor, Florida, shelter for unaccompanied minor migrants.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the 17-year-old boy died after being taken to the Mease Countryside Hospital, according to the local medical examiner’s office.

The teen was found unconscious at the Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services shelter, which is currently unlicensed by the state due to dispute between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the federal government.

After resuscitation attempts, the boy was pronounced dead. The exact cause of death is still under investigation.

The child was identified as Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza, according to Enrique Reina, the Honduran secretary of foreign affairs.

Espinoza is the second child to die while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for caring for unaccompanied minors who cross the border. His is the first death to occur during the Biden administration.

Children under the care of ORR are typically placed in shelters until they can be matched with a sponsor, usually a relative, who can be responsible for their care.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued the following statement regarding the incident.

“The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is deeply saddened by this tragic loss and our heart goes out to the family, with whom we are in touch,” the statement reads. “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. 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. A list of services and requirements can be found at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/policy-guidance/unaccompanied-children-program-policy-guide-section-3#3.1.”

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