Fake News: USBP Actually Rescued Alien Allegedly Died “In Custody”

The open borders lobby has recently seized on the death of anyone who passes away in the custody of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as evidence that our government mistreats immigration violators. Of course, that isn’t a logical conclusion: Many migrants arrive in the United States from countries with limited public health infrastructure. Never having received any form of preventative medical or dental care, they are often afflicted by debilitating pre-existing conditions. And most migrants reach our southern border after an arduous journey, often made under the supervision of opportunistic criminal smugglers, who pay little attention to the health or safety of those in their charge.

The vast majority of the deaths hyperbolically trumpeted in the press turn out to have resulted from chronic ailments like tuberculosis, congenital conditions, complications of contagious diseases etc., that were contracted long before the affected alien ever encountered a U.S. law enforcement official. Nevertheless, critics of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are never able to explain how the United States bears any responsibility for conditions contracted in a foreign country by individuals who have had no prior contact with America. Nor are they able to explain why they think that CBP and ICE should be able to instantly detect long-term conditions like heart disease or stroke risk, maladies that doctors at elite hospitals often have trouble diagnosing.

A recent story published by USA Today perfectly illustrates the phenomenon. Titled, “Mexican Migrant in Border Patrol Custody Dies at Arizona Hospital,” it purports to tell the story of an unidentified man encountered by CBP officers while attempting to cross the border illegally.

The piece clearly implies that the Border Patrol somehow played a role in this migrant’s death. It also implies that death in the custody of DHS agencies is a common occurrence, stating, “This is the first death in custody for Arizona border officials so far this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1. It is the second nationwide at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

However, characterizing this individual’s death as a “death in custody” is a bit of a stretch, even for today’s fake news corporate media. In fact, an accurate description would have noted that the man in question was actually rescued by the Border Patrol. According to USA Today’s own reporting, “As agents apprehended him on Sunday afternoon, the man was apparently having chest pains and was first transported to a hospital in Casa Grande…When his condition worsened from ‘cardiac complications,’ he was transported to a hospital in Mesa.” The article also notes that the man’s cause of death was “a preexisting heart condition.”

So, in plain English, the Border Patrol encountered a man having a heart attack, rendered first aid and got him to the closest hospital. The American hospital then transferred him to a more sophisticated facility, where he received emergency surgery. If you’re finding it difficult to see where any mistreatment occurred, that’s because there wasn’t any. If this man had not come across CBP personnel, he would have died alone in the desert.

None of that is mentioned in USA Today’s story, because it doesn’t fit the ridiculous narrative that President Trump hates immigrants, immigration enforcement is immoral and all DHS officers are racists. In reality, however, there are thousands of immigrants – in the United States, Mexico and myriad other nations – who are alive today only because Border Patrol agents rescued them in the wilderness or CBP Officers were on hand to render aid when they experienced a medical emergency while at a port-of-entry. But don’t expect to see any of those stories on the leading page of any elitist corporate media outlet.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.