Migrant girl in custody at the US-Mexico border dies of dehydration, shock after not getting water and food for days

The girl was arrested by agents near Lordsburg, New Mexico last week and died nearly eight hours after being taken into custody.


                            Migrant girl in custody at the US-Mexico border dies of dehydration, shock after not getting water and food for days

A seven-year-old girl, who was in the US Border Patrol's custody after crossing the US-Mexico border with her father last week, reportedly died of dehydration and shock, federal immigration authorities on Thursday confirmed. The girl was arrested by agents near Lordsburg, New Mexico last week and died nearly eight hours after being taken into custody, according to the Washington Post. The girl, who was from Guatemala, was reportedly traveling with a group of 163 migrants who approached agents to turn themselves in on December 6. 

A migrant caravan walks into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on October 21, 2018 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.
A migrant caravan walks into the interior of Mexico after crossing the Guatemalan border on October 21, 2018 near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection, in a statement, said that the girl had not eaten or consumed water in several days. It is not clear what happened to the girl during the eight hours before she was flown to an El Paso hospital as she began having seizures. Reports state that the agency could have faced some challenges while processing 163 immigrants in one night. The agency's detention facilities are built for temporary confinement and generally do not accommodate many people.

The conditions of Border Patrol holding cells have long been under scrutiny as immigrants, attorneys and activists have raised issues with the agency. The child's death has now raised questions whether border agents knew she was ill and whether she was given food and water during the eight-plus hours stay in custody.  An ongoing lawsuit in Tucson has claimed that the holding cells are extremely cold, filthy and lack basic necessities. 

A boy from Honduras watches a movie at a detention facility run by the U.S. Border Patrol on September 8, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. The Border Patrol opened the holding center to temporarily house the children after tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossed the border illegally into the United States during the spring and summer. 
A boy from Honduras watches a movie at a detention facility run by the U.S. Border Patrol on September 8, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. The Border Patrol opened the holding center to temporarily house the children after tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossed the border illegally into the United States during the spring and summer. 

The seven-year-old's death comes after a toddler died right after being released from a family detention facility run by ICE in Texas. An advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, Cynthia Pompa, said that the number of migrant deaths increased last year despite the decrease in the number of people crossing the border.

"This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions. Lack of accountability and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths," Pompa said. 

Migrants climb up a bank of the nearly dry Tijuana River as they attempt to make their way past a police blockade to the El Chaparral port of entry on November 25, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Migrants climb up a bank of the nearly dry Tijuana River as they attempt to make their way past a police blockade to the El Chaparral port of entry on November 25, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)