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17-year-old migrant child from Honduras, Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza, died in U.S. custody in Florida

This is believed to be the first such incident in years.



On Friday, officials reported that a 17-year-old migrant minor from Honduras who entered the U.S. without parental or guardian supervision passed away while in government custody in Florida.

This is believed to be the first such incident in years.

Enrique Reina, the Honduran secretary of foreign affairs, identified the child as Ángel Eduardo Maradiaga Espinoza and called for a thorough investigation into the death.

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed the passing in a statement, it gave limited information regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“The agency expressed its condolences to the family of the deceased child and is in communication with them during this tragic time,” stated the HHS. According to Reina and an official from HHS, the minor was being held at a shelter in Florida designated for unaccompanied children.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a division of HHS, is responsible for providing housing and support to migrant minors who cross the U.S.-Mexico border without legal guardians. Federal regulations require border officials to transfer unaccompanied minors to the ORR within 72 hours. The refugee office then accommodates the minors in shelters or other facilities until they turn 18 or are claimed by a sponsor in the United States.

According to officials, the HHS has stated that the ORR’s Division of Health for Unaccompanied Children is currently examining all medical records related to the case, while a medical examiner is carrying out an investigation into the child’s death.

The statement pointed out that children in ORR custody have access to a variety of services, including health care, legal services, translation services, and mental and behavioral health counselors.

They are also able to connect with their families over the phone in a private space a minimum of twice a week. As of Wednesday, government figures show that there were 8,681 unaccompanied children in the care of HHS, and they usually spend an average of 29 days in ORR custody.

In the last fiscal year, the majority of minors referred to ORR were above 14 years old, and around 64% of them were boys.

Unaccompanied children are typically paired with a sponsor, often a relative, and released.