Spare a thought this New Year for Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy you may have never met and now never will.
Carlos was seriously ill when U.S. immigration agents put him into a south Texas holding cell with another sick boy on May 19, 2019.
Earlier a nurse who had examined him recorded his temperature at 103. He has the flu, she told border agents, you should check on him within the next two hours to see if his condition gets worse she said.
But no agents ever checked on him and all her recommendations were ignored. Concerned the boy might give flu to the hordes of other locked up migrants at the massively overcrowded processing facility they moved him to a quarantined cell in a different border patrol station, where he was reportedly neglected as soon as he arrived.
Videotapes show Carlos squirming on the floor in a high fever, then they show him staggering to the toilet and later collapsing face-first on the floor, where he lay unseen and unassisted for four and a half hours, dying in a pool of his own blood.
Some people's kids are taken to hospital when they are delirious with the flu, and some people's kids are left on a concrete floor to die a lonely death unseen and uncared for.
Which kids they happen to be, depends on things that they have no control over like the color of their skin and the place of their birth.
It's sad that I have to say this but Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez was a kid, not a criminal. He had a legal right to seek asylum here but he was the sixth migrant child to die under Border Patrol custody in less than a year. (During the Obama administration, not a single migrant child died in custody.)
John Sanders, former acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner (the Trump administration can't seem to appoint dedicated staff for long) resigned in horror shortly after Carlos's death.
He blamed unprepared agencies and a hand wringing Congress for the tragedy. He said he was haunted by the tape he had seen of Carlos's needless death.
When Carlos began his long journey to the United States he was healthy his parents said, what happened to him to make him so ill they asked?
The answer to that lies in the vastly overcrowded cells and appalling conditions that migrants are being kept in, which poses a risk to the lives of both the detained and those guarding them.
Carlos was reportedly the second youngest of eight children and the best student in his school. He was captain of the soccer team and could play any musical instrument he picked up including the bombo drum, lyre and trumpet his proud teacher told the press.
When he was a boy he and his friends would pretend to cross the U.S. border as a game. They used guava leaves as play money to send back to his struggling family at home.
If you live in New York you see and may even know half a dozen boys like Carlos working in construction (that was his plan) or bussing tables or working as a prep chef or sweeping out bars and restaurants in the early morning. You know how hard-working boys like Carlos are when given a chance.
But Carlos was not given a chance, he was not even afforded the minimum care we show our own. So this Christmas I hope we will all think about that. About who gets a chance and who doesn't.
Because if we can decide that other people's children are not worthy of our concern then other people can come to that conclusion about ours too. It's dangerous to lose your empathy in other words because by doing so we give others permission to do the same.
“I really think the American government failed these people,” former acting commissioner Sanders said after the brief investigation into his death. “The government failed people like Carlos. I was part of that system at a very high level, and Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”
It should follow him. It should follow us all.