On December 6, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl and her father were with 163 immigrants who crossed the US-Mexico border illegally. They handed themselves into the custody of the US Border Patrol.
On Thursday, reports came out that the little girl died last week while still in custody. She was held at the detention center for 8 hours.
Reports state that the 7-year-old girl died of dehydration and shock. Her death occurred after more than eight hours after she was arrested by agents near Lordsburg, New Mexico.
She was traveling with a group of 163 people who handed themselves to border agents. The girl started having seizures and was flown to the Providence Children's Hospital in El Paso.
For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. In a statement the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees Border Patrol, said:
"Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child. Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child's life under the most trying of circumstances. As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child."
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the unnamed girl had not eaten or drunk water in a number of days. The girl went into cardiac arrest and was revived by medics but she couldn't recover and died less than 24 hours later.
Monique Poessiger, a hospital spokeswoman said:
"Due to patient confidentiality, the hospital is unable to provide any patient information and is referring any inquiries regarding this patient to CBP."
A DHS spokesperson said an autopsy would be performed but the results could take several weeks. The CBP's Office of Professional Responsibility has launched an investigation into the matter to "ensure all appropriate policies were followed."
It’s believed that the CBP might have had a hard time processing 163 immigrants in one night. Their detention facilities are usually meant to be temporary and don’t fit a lot of people all at once.
When a person is arrested by border patrol they are processed at a facility but they usually spend no more than 72 hours in custody. Then they’re either transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or, if they're Mexican, they get deported home.
The 7-year-old’s death raises questions about whether border agents knew she was ill and if she was fed anything during the time she was in custody. The conditions at the detention centers have also come into the spotlight.
In a similar case Yazmin Juarez, 20, has filed a wrongful death claim seeking $60 million from the US government. In May, her daughter Mariee, 19-months-old, died within weeks after they were released from a Texas immigrant detention center in Dilley.
Juarez and her attorney alleged that ICE had provided substandard medical care for the toddler after she suffered a respiratory infection while in detention.