A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala, traveling with a caravan to the border, died while in the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The death, according to The Washington Post, happened on Dec. 7, just hours after the girl and her father were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol the evening prior. Roughly eight hours after the girl had been experiencing seizures and was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, the girl went into cardiac arrest. The Post reports that the girl died of dehydration and shock, was running a fever, and had not eaten or had water for several days.
The girl and her father were part of a large group, consisting of 163 people that crossed the border illegally in a “remote span of New Mexico desert.” It was there that they turned themselves in, to border patrol. As of now the father is still in El Paso and will be meeting with Guatemalan consular officials.
In a statement to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that CBP “took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances.” They added that “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring.” They also expressed their “sincerest condolences.”
DHS pleaded that people should take into consideration the high risks involved in attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. “Once again, we are begging parents to not put themselves or their children at risk attempting to enter illegally,” the statement said. “Please present yourselves at a port of entry and seek to enter legally and safely.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted: “This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when children are held in inhumane conditions. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths.”