A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock while in U.S. Border Patrol custody last week, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The girl, who the Post said was not identified by the CBP, started having seizures roughly eight hours after the Border Patrol took her into custody along with her father and a group of 163 other people who had crossed the border illegally along a stretch of New Mexico desert.
The migrants had turned themselves in to U.S. agents and were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6. The girl began having seizures at 6:25 the following morning, CBP records stated.
She “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days,” CBP said. Emergency responders measured her temperature at 105.7 degrees and took her by helicopter to an El Paso hospital. There, she went into cardiac arrest and “was revived,” CBP said. “However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported.”
CBP officials did not immediately provide comment to HuffPost.
“Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child,” Andrew Meehan, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement to the Post.
“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 empathize with the loss of any child.”
Meehan did not comment to the Post on whether Border Patrol agents provided the girl with food and water in the eight hours between when she was taken into custody and when her seizures began.
Border Patrol agents detained a record 25,172 “family unit members” in November and 5,283 “unaccompanied minors,” according to Department of Homeland Security figures released last week.
The Trump administration is no longer enforcing the family separations carried out in May and June, which sparked a nationwide outcry and prompted a federal judge to order the government to reunite children with their guardians.
But the child’s dehydration death last week could inflame anger over the agency’s treatment of children, especially with new reports this week about the conditions of CBP facilities.
The government is currently holding nearly 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children in federally contracted detention facilities, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. Shelters holding children are about 92 percent full, agency spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer told CNN.