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Flu outbreak closes migrant center near border in Texas

By Nicholas Sakelaris
The U.S. Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, which was closed due to influenza Tuesday, is seen on June 17, 2018. File Photo courtesy U.S. Border Patrol
The U.S. Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, which was closed due to influenza Tuesday, is seen on June 17, 2018. File Photo courtesy U.S. Border Patrol | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- An outbreak of influenza has led U.S. immigration officials to temporarily close and quarantine a processing center at the border in Texas, authorities said.

Tuesday, officials closed the center in McAllen after medical staff diagnosed several migrants with high fevers and flu-like symptoms. The processing center is a converted warehouse with fenced-in pens that hold migrants caught crossing the border illegally.

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"To avoid the spread of illness, the Rio Grande Valley Sector has temporarily suspended intake operations at the [Central Processing Center]," U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said said. "Individuals apprehended in [Rio Grande Valley] sector will be held at other locations until this situation is resolved."

The McAllen center is the same one where a 16-year old Guatemalan boy died Monday. The teen, identified as Carlos Hernandez Vasquez, was apprehended near Hidalgo, Texas, on May 13 and transferred to the Weslaco Border Patrol Station Sunday. He was found unresponsive Monday during a welfare check. Officials said he'd been diagnosed with Influenza A and treated.

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"The men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family," acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders said. "CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody."

Carlos is the fifth child to die in U.S. custody since December.

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