A Guatemalan child who was detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the southern border “died of dehydration and shock” just hours after she and her dad were taken into custody, The Washington Post reports. The girl, whose name has not yet been officially confirmed by U.S. authorities, was just seven years old.
There is some information into what happened. The child reportedly had a temperature of 105.7 degrees before she was transferred via helicopter to a hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest and was revived. “However,” CBP said in a statement, “the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported.”
But what CBP hasn’t said is what exactly happened between the time she was first detained, on the night of Dec. 12, and when she began having seizures, at 6:25 AM the next day. What CBP also hasn’t confirmed is where exactly she was being held when her condition rapidly declined. What is known is that the facilities where migrants are initially held by border agents—hieleras, literally “iceboxes” for being so cold—are horror shows and no place for any human being, regardless of age.
These facilities, America’s Voice says, “are wretched places. Freezing temperatures, no beds, lights left on, no showers, not enough toilets or toilet paper, filthy conditions, horrible smell, inedible food and not enough clean water to drink, and run by insulting and abusive agents. Front line workers report that most of those released from these CBP facilities are dazed, sick and hungry.”
“Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody,” The Washington Post continued, “and it wasn’t immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam before the onset of seizures.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, rather than offer some semblance of sympathy or of owning the death of a child on government watch, went on Fox & Friends to blame her dad. "This is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey,” she said. “This family chose to cross illegally.” Imagine saying this knowing full well your border agents are also blocking families from entering legally through a port of entry. “I cannot stress [enough] how dangerous this journey is,” she continued.
No, we cannot stress is how dangerous it is for children and families to be in immigration custody. Border agents have actually been secretly filmed destroying lifesaving jugs of water left for migrants in the desert. Officials don’t just deserve to get fired for this, they deserve to get charged. This was a horrific and preventable death. The child deserves accountability and answers, and it’s not just Nielsen and CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan who should be hounded, but Donald Trump as well.
“I’ll be asking for a full investigation,” tweeted Congress member Joaquin Castro, “by the Inspector General and Congress into the conditions and circumstances that led to her death.”
A government watchdog investigation has been announced: