After his family was separated at the border, a Honduran father took his own life

"They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands."

A Honduran family stands next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after they turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents on February 22, 2018 near Penitas, Texas. CREDIT: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
A Honduran family stands next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence after they turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents on February 22, 2018 near Penitas, Texas. CREDIT: Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

A Honduran father who was arrested and forcibly separated from his wife and child while trying to enter the United States, killed himself in a padded cell, according to a new report from the Washington Post.

The Post obtained a report from the sheriff’s department, which detailed how Marco Antonio Muñoz, 39, “was found on the floor of his cell May 13 in a pool of blood with an item of clothing twisted around his neck.” The deputies recorded it as a “suicide in custody.”

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Muñoz, his wife, and their three-year-old son crossed the Rio Grande at the small Texas town of Granjeno on May 12, seeking to apply for asylum, according to border patrol agents the Post spoke with about the matter.

Once they were taken to McAllen to a processing stating, they were told they would be separated, and Muñoz “lost it” according to the agent who spoke to The Post.

“They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands,” the agent said. Muñoz was extremely “agitated” and the Border Patrol considered him “pre-assault” despite never attacking agents.

He repeatedly attempted to escape and they moved him to a jail cell at the Starr County Jail, where he was then placed in a padded cell. He was praying in the corner of his cell the following morning. Shortly after, he was found dead with a piece of clothing twisted around his neck, in a pool of blood.

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Muñoz’s wife and child were released from custody, according to the news report. It said Border Patrol contacted the Honduran consulate about reclaiming his body, but received no answer.

Thousands of Hondurans have attempted to apply for asylum in the United States due to chronic gang violence. The U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory, which tells Americans to reconsider travel there for those reasons. Outside of war zones, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates on the planet. Last month, the Trump administration ended temporary deportation protection for 57,000 Honduran immigrants in the United States.

Hondurans made up a significant portion of the “caravan” of migrants which earned so much contempt from President Trump earlier this spring.

Despite the vitriol they faced in their perfectly legal — and very dangerous — journey to seek asylum, the 50 of the original 1,500 who actually made it to the border were illegally turned away by the United States.

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Despite the president’s tweets seeking to blame “bad legislation passed by Democrats” for the policy of separating immigrant parents from their children, the real cause is Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new “zero tolerance” policy for people who cross the border. “To those who wish to challenge the Trump Administration’s commitment to public safety, national security, and the rule of law, I warn you: illegally entering this country will not be rewarded, but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice,” said Sessions’ statement announcing the Trump administration policy.

This is by no means the only example of the deadly threats immigrants face in the United States.

In February, Cuban immigrant Yulio Castro-Garrido died in a Georgia detention center that has been accused of providing poor medical care. At the same detention center last month, Panamanian immigrant Jean Jimenez-Joseph was found dead by suicide after 19 days in solitary confinement. In 2015, a migrant woman from Honduras attempted suicide minutes after she found out she could not afford the $5,000 cost of her own release from a detention center in Texas.

And in a tragic death just last month, teenager and DACA recipient Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco — who was deported shortly before he would have graduated from high school in Iowa —  was killed while getting food with a friend, just three weeks after being forced back to Mexico, a country he left while still a young child.