CBP Identifies 10-Year-Old Girl Who Died in Federal Custody in September
A 10-year-old Salvadoran girl who died in Department of Health and Human Services custody last September was identified Friday by a US Customs and Border Protection official as Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle.
On Thursday, HHS spokesman Mark Weber had announced the girl’s death but did not provide her name.
After she was apprehended nine miles west of Hidalgo, Texas, in March 2018, Cordova-Valle spent about 45 hours in CBP custody before being transported to the custody of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In a statement Thursday, Weber said the 10-year-old girl had a history of congenital heart defects. He said the child had surgery complications that had left her in a comatose state. She was transported to a nursing facility in Phoenix and later transported to Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, where she died due to fever and respiratory distress on September 29, according to Weber.
Darlyn’s mother, who asked CNN not to reveal her identity, told CNN by phone on Friday evening that her daughter was born with a heart murmur. Doctors told her that her daughter would need a surgery later.
“Her heart would palpitate really hard,” Darlyn’s mother said.
According to her mother, Darlyn traveled to the border from El Salvador, where she was staying with an aunt while her mother worked and provided for the family from the United States. When her daughter arrived at the border, authorities asked her to fill out paperwork for Darlyn’s release from custody. However, her daughter was never released and remained in CBP custody.
“I wish [authorities] would have released her to me,” her mother said.
When asked by CNN why HHS had not announced the death in September, Weber said they had prepared a statement at the time but that reporting requirements include notifying “appropriate officials” and “media is not part of the list.”
Since December, five children are known to have died after arriving at the US border from Guatemala. Two young children died weeks apart in December in government custody, spurring congressional hearings on the matter.
Seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died of sepsis, a bacterial infection, in an El Paso, Texas, hospital in December and weeks later, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died of the flu complicated by sepsis while in CBP custody.
Homeland Security and CBP officials announced a series of new procedures following the deaths of the two children, including secondary medical checks on all children with a focus those under age 10.
Earlier this week, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in government custody, according to CBP.