By Editor-June 16th, 2023.
The Department of Homeland Security has removed the chief medical officer at US Customs and Border Protection following the death of an 8-year-old girl held in US custody last month, according to a Homeland Security official.
David Tarantino, who served in the position, has been reassigned, according to the official.
“During his years of service to the CBP Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Tarantino has played a key role in significantly expanding the provision of medical care to individuals in CBP custody,” CBP said in a statement.
“As CBP works to implement required improvements to our medical care policies and processes, including from the ongoing investigation into the tragic in-custody death of a child in Harlingen, we are bringing in additional senior leadership to drive action across the agency,” the statement continued.
The Washington Post first reported the reassignment.
Anadith Tanay Reyes Alvarez, the 8-year-old, and her family were taken into custody by immigration authorities in south Texas on May 9. Reyes died on May 17 at a Harlingen hospital.
On the day of her death, Reyes’ mother had made multiple requests for an ambulance, which went unanswered by CBP-contracted medical personnel, the agency said. Reyes was “unconscious and unresponsive” when first responders arrived to her aid, according to the Harlingen Fire Department incident report obtained by CNN through an information request.
Reports from Spanish language news agencies suggest that the child suffered from sickle cell anemia and had had heart surgery at the age of 5.
CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating the death.
Reyes will be laid to rest on Saturday in New York City, according to the Haitian Bridge Alliance and the Texas Civil Rights Project, the two groups representing the family.
“Ana’s death could have been prevented if her and her mother’s cries for medical attention were not dismissed while in CBP custody. When it comes to Black people, we always must fight to prove our humanity and even then, our humanity is denied. No mother should have to go through this immense pain,” Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, said in a news release.
Souces: CNN, EFE, agencies.