A seven-year-old girl from Guatemala has died of dehydration and shock hours after she was taken into US Border Patrol custody, the Washington Post has reported.
The girl and her father had been detained by immigration authorities on December 6 in the US state of New Mexico as part of a group of 163 people who approached US agents to turn themselves in, the newspaper reported on Thursday.
Early on December 7, the girl started having seizures, and emergency responders measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, the Post said. She was taken to a hospital, where she died, according to the report.O
US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters news agency for comment.
A spokesperson at Providence Hospital in El Paso, in the US state of Texas, where the Post reported the child was taken, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The names of the girl and her father were not released. The agency, which typically provides food and water to migrants in its custody, is investigating the incident to ensure whether appropriate policies were followed, the Post said.
The reported death of the seven-year-old is expected to intensify scrutiny over the conditions endured by those detained at Border Patrol stations and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities under the administration of Donald Trump, who has made toughening immigration policies a central tenet of his presidency and has pledged to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico.
“This tragedy represents the worst possible outcome when people, including children, are held in inhumane conditions,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.
“Lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP have exacerbated policies that lead to migrant deaths,” she added. “In 2016, migrant deaths increased even as the number of border crossings dramatically decreased.”
Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, wrote on Twitter that the head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, will appear in front of the panel next week.
“We will be demanding immediate answers to this tragedy,” Nadler said.