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Congolese migrant dies in U.S. border custody

By Darryl Coote

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A 41-year-old Congolese woman died in federal immigration custody after arriving at a Texas port of entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said Thursday.

The unnamed woman arrived Tuesday with her family at the Gateway to the Americas Bridge in Laredo, Texas, with paperwork that said she suffered from a "previous medical condition," the agency said in a release.

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She was cleared by medical staff to be held overnight and was transferred to the Lincoln Juarez Bridge for additional processing, it said.

CBP said while awaiting final processing and release on Wednesday, she told border agents that she had vomited and was suffering from abdominal pain.

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EMS was contacted and transported the woman to the Laredo Medical Center where her health rapidly declined and she later died, it said.

"Webb County Medical Examiner's Office has determined that the death is not suspicious, as the individual had a preexisting medical condition," CBP said in a statement. "CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility was notified and is reviewing the incident."

The woman's death comes days after a Nigerian man died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in Maryland after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor days prior.

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Anthony Oluseye Akinyemi, 56, entered federal custody less than 24 hours before he was found dead Saturday morning in his jail cell. The preliminary cause of death is self-inflicted strangulation, ICE said in a statement.

The House oversight and reform committee has opened an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security's care of detainees after new evidence shows that a 16-year-old boy died from the flu in border patrol custody after being locked in a cell without medical attention despite "obvious and prolonged symptoms of severe distress," the committee said in a letter Monday to Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security.

"The department's failure to care for this sick child appears to be part of a troubling pattern of abuse and poor treatment of immigrants in the department's detention centers," committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney wrote in demand of documents as part of its investigation.

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At least seven children have died in government custody since 2018, which followed nearly a decade without a single such death, she said.

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