U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Monday the death of a 16-year-old boy from Guatemala who had just days earlier crossed the southern border illegally as a so-designated “unaccompanied minor.” While only minimal details were released, the young man was likely headed to relatives waiting for him somewhere in the United States.
Earlier this week, Ron Colburn, president of the Border Patrol Foundation, told the nodding hosts on “Fox & Friends” that pepper spray, one of the riot-control agents that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they used over the weekend to deter migrants (including parents with young children in tow) was essentially benign. “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it,” Colburn said.
The latest attempt to get an accurate death toll in Puerto Rico following last year’s Hurricane Maria paints a grim picture: 2,975 “excess” deaths could be attributed to the storm, according to George Washington University researchers. That’s 46 times more than the 64 deaths first reported last fall.
But the counting is far from over, and nobody should be surprised if the death toll in Puerto Rico reaches or exceeds 4,000 by the end of the year.
Even assuming the worst, it is hard to imagine that anybody — even in this White House — planned to have Melania Trump’s seemingly heartfelt public statement about cherishing and protecting children utterly neutralized — almost mockingly — by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ s ice-cold reiteration of protocols for dealing with immigrant families seeking asylum status in the United States.
In many ways my trip last month to Flint, Mich. — now the symbolic epicenter of how bad decisions, bad politics and ill-advised money-saving measures can seriously and permanently harm children — was more depressing than the first time I visited that struggling city in 2016.
You’ll recall that in 2014, the state of Michigan, led by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), replaced Flint’s clean, safe water from Detroit’s system with improperly treated water from the Flint River. Lead leached from pipes into the water supply. The state’s irresponsible — in fact, criminally negligent — decision precipitated one of the worst public health crises in recent U.S. history.
As a pediatrician — and grandfather — I ask myself: What would I do if I had family members raising kids in Flint, Mich., right now?
The answer is anything in my power to get them out of that toxic, distressed and struggling city. And if that’s the right answer on a personal basis, it offers a critical insight into what has to be considered on a general policy level for the health and well-being of a community where water for drinking and bathing has been contaminated with lead for almost two years.