Congolese Asylum Seeker Dies In U.S. Border Custody

By Gabrielle Jones, KERA News

A 41-year-old Congolese woman seeking asylum died Wednesday in U.S. custody shortly after she entered a border station in South Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

CBP said in a statement that the woman arrived at an official port of entry in Laredo early Tuesday afternoon. The woman, whom they did not identify, came with paperwork that documented a “previous medical condition.” CBP said the agency’s medical personnel cleared her for additional processing and overnight detention at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge.

Soldiers installing concertina wire at Juarez-Lincoln Bridge in Laredo, Texas in 2018. A Congolese asylum seeker who later died reported she was in medical distress on Dec. 25 after being transferred to the facility overnight. (U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION)

The agency’s statement said the woman told CBP officers early Wednesday that “she was suffering from abdominal pain and had vomited.” The agency said it contacted emergency personnel immediately and had her taken to the Laredo Medical Center.

The Associated Press reports the woman was diagnosed at the hospital with acute kidney failure, according to information CBP gave members of Congress. A congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity provided details to The Associated Press. CBP did not identify the woman’s illness in its public statement.

“The subject’s health declined rapidly and she passed away at the hospital,” CBP’s public statement said.

She was traveling with her husband and two children, who were subsequently released.

New immigration policies enacted under the Trump administration have limited the number of migrants admitted at ports of entry to just a few each day, forcing tens of thousands to wait in Mexico. The Associated Press reports CBP told Congress that its officers admitted the woman and her family as part of the daily number of people allowed to enter at the Gateway to the Americas bridge.

The agency said the Webb County medical examiner has determined that the death is not suspicious since the woman had a previous medical condition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

About Carlos Morales

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director, Border and Immigration Reporter, and Morning Edition Host.
This entry was posted in KRTS News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.