Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has contacted Secretary Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security to initiate an immediate federal investigation to the death of 14-day-old Michael Futi who died while detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the Honolulu airport in Hawaii on February 8, 2008.
The full text of Congressman Faleomavaega’s letter to Secretary Chertoff is included below.
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to request an immediate investigation to an incident involving the death of Michael Tony Futi, a 14-day-old infant, while detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on February 8, 2008. Michael was traveling with his mother, Mrs. Lua’ipou Futi, and an escort nurse on a direct flight from American Samoa to Hawaii. Michael, who was born with a heart defect, was scheduled for an emergency evaluation for a probable heart operation at the Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Hawaii.
I have been informed by close family relatives that upon arrival in Hawaii, Mrs. Futi, Michael, and the escort nurse were held by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the Honolulu International Airport. According to the family, the group was detained by CBP because of issues regarding travel documentation. While detained, Mrs. Futi and the escort nurse made numerous attempts to explain to CBP Officers of the urgency for Michael to be discharged to local medical faculty who was scheduled to transfer Michael directly to Kapi’olani Medical Center upon arrival. However, CBP officers did not respond to their desperate plea and during this time Michael suffered respiratory failure.
There are many issues and questions regarding the seriousness of Michael’s death and whether this tragedy could have been prevented. The following are some of the questions that were raised in this unfortunate tragedy:
• Was Michael medically fit to travel from American Samoa to Hawaii?
• What issues relating to travel documentation required further review and detainment by federal immigration and customs officers in Honolulu?
• Were federal immigration officials informed of Michael’s medical condition prior to departure and arrival?
• Were the immigration forms properly authorized prior to departure and arrival?
I am hopeful that the Department of Homeland Security will be able to provide answers to such questions and will have a thorough review of the events surrounding Michael’s tragic death. Enclosed please find recent media articles relating to this incident.
Congressman Faleomavaega concluded by saying, “For these reasons, I am requesting your intervention and immediate investigation in this matter and look forward to your timely response.”