A seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into custody by the Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, the girl and her father were taken into custody in New Mexico on December 6 as part of a group of 163 people who approached the US agency to turn themselves in. The child began to have seizures almost eight hours after she was taken into custody. She “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days”, according to statement from the Customs and Border Protection.
The child was transferred to a hospital in El Paso in Texas where she died. The child’s father is in El Paso to meet Guatemalan consular officials.
The agency usually provides food and water to migrants in its custody and is investigating the incident to ensure appropriate policies were followed.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Border Patrol, condoled the death of the girl. “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances,” Border Patrol spokesperson Andrew Meehan. “As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathise with the loss of any child.”
The girl’s death comes months after a child died six weeks after being released from an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility in Texas, CNN reported. The toddler’s mother alleged she had contracted a respiratory infection after they arrived at the facility and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided substandard medical care to the child.
A large number of migrants from Central America have been crossing the border into Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Migrants have also been arriving at the San Ysidro crossing point, between US’ San Diego and Mexico’s Tijuana. The group arriving at Tijuana border largely comprised families and children looking to legally apply for asylum.
On November 9, US President Donald Trump had issued a proclamation that migrants who crossed the border “unlawfully or without proper documentation” would be ineligible for asylum. But soon after, two organisations sued the president and a federal judge had barred Trump’s administration from refusing asylum.