Guatemalan Girl, 7, Dies of Dehydration, Shock in US Custody
LAS CRUCES, NM – December 14, 2018
A seven-year-old Guatemalan girl died in Border Patrol custody last week after she was detained for illegally crossing into the US with her father, federal officials said on Thursday.
The young unidentified girl was taken into custody with her father around 10pm on December 6 near Lordsburg, New Mexico, the US Customs and Border Protection agency said in a statement.
The Washington Post reports the girl died of dehydration and shock more than eight hours after she was arrested. She was from Guatemala and was traveling with a group of 163 people who approached agents to turn themselves in.
It's unknown what happened to the girl during the eight hours before she started having seizures. Medical responders said the girl had a lethal temperature of 105.7 and she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days,” CBP said.
The girl went into cardiac arrest after being taken to an El Paso, Texas, hospital, but doctors managed to revive her, according to the agency.
“However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported,” CBP said.
Andrew Meehan, a CBP spokesman, offered his “sincerest condolences” to the girl’s family.
“Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances,” Meehan said. “As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathise with the loss of any child.”
The names of the girl and her father were not released. The agency, which typically provides food and water to migrants in its custody, is investigating the incident to ensure whether appropriate policies were followed.
The death of the child is expected to intensify scrutiny over the conditions endured by those detained at Border Patrol stations and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities under the administration of Donald Trump, who has made toughening immigration policies a central tenet of his presidency and has pledged to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
“Horrifying,” the official Women’s March handle tweeted. “She should never have been put in a detention centre. She never should have been neglected once taken into custody. Her death is on this administration’s hands.”
The death of the 7-year-old comes after a toddler died in May just after being released from an ICE family detention facility in Texas, and as the administration of Donald Trump attempts to ban people from asking for asylum if they crossed the border illegally. A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked that ban, but the administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate it Tuesday.
"This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions," Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.
"Lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths," she added. "In 2016, migrant deaths increased even as the number of border crossings dramatically decreased."