In April 2021, a Honduran teenager died in the custody of the United States government two weeks after being detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The teenager, identified as 16-year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, died on April 21, 2021 at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas.
According to CBP, the teen had been detained since May 20, 2021 and was found unresponsive during a welfare check at the station. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The death occurred just days after the expiration of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Title 42 order, which has allowed the U.S. government to quickly expel unaccompanied minors crossing the border without providing them due process or the opportunity to seek asylum. The order was set to expire on May 20, 2021, the day Hernandez Vasquez was detained, but the Biden administration extended the order through June 30, 2021.
The cause of Hernandez Vasquez’s death is still under investigation, but it has raised questions about the safety of unaccompanied minors in CBP custody, as well as the implications of the CDC’s Title 42 order. The order has been criticized by immigrant rights advocates and public health experts for its potential to put minors at risk, as it prevents them from being able to access the full range of protections available to them under U.S. law.