- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2008

A key House lawmaker is calling for an investigation into the death of a two-week-old infant while in custody of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials at the Honolulu International Airport last week.

The baby, along with his mother and a private nurse, are U.S. citizens who were travelling from American Samoa to Hawaii, where the child was scheduled to undergo urgent heart surgery.

The travelers were placed in a holding cell for five hours, CBP officials told the family, because of paperwork problems with the travel visas.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, requested that the Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigate the death of Michael Tony Futi.

“This appears to be a terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to the family,” Mr. King said. “CBP is charged with keeping our country secure, and I have a great deal of respect for the job that they do. But this entire matter must be fully investigated.”

“I am requesting that your office review this situation immediately to determine the chain of events that led to the death, the rationale for detaining the infant and nurse (both of whom are United States citizens) and the CBP procedures and policies to recommend changes, if appropriate, to ensure that a tragedy such as this does not happen again,” Mr. King said in a letter to Richard Skinner, Homeland Security inspector general.

Mike Friel, CBP spokesman, said he was unable to comment “pending litigation that was cited in various reports.”

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Luaipou Futi and the nurse banged on a locked door at the airport on the morning of Feb. 8 and begged for medical help for the baby, who became distressed in the warm room.


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