7-Year-Old Immigrant Girl From Guatemala Died Of Dehydration While In Border Patrol Custody

The agency is facing allegations of neglect after doctors said the girl had nothing to eat or drink for several days, but received no medical attention in custody.

U.S. Border Patrol stops a group of immigrants.
John Moore / Getty Images

The agency is facing allegations of neglect after doctors said the girl had nothing to eat or drink for several days, but received no medical attention in custody.

A 7-year-old immigrant girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock while in the custody of Border Patrol, sparking backlash against the agency and allegations of neglect.

The girl died last week after she and family members illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in a stretch of New Mexico desert along with more than 100 others, the Washington Post reported. The group turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents and were taken into custody at 10 p.m. on December 6. The following day, at 6:25 a.m., the 7-year-old girl started to have seizures and emergency responders measured her temperature at 105.7 degrees.

The girl was then rushed to the hospital, where she briefly went into cardiac arrest before being revived. But the girl remained unconscious and died within 24 hours of being taken into the hospital.

An investigation revealed that the girl had nothing to eat or drink for several days.

The girl’s death has prompted an immediate backlash. The ACLU said that the Border Patrol has a “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty” and placed blame on the agency for the girl’s death. The agency did not explain how the girl died of dehydration after being in the Border Patrol custody, or why she was not given medical treatment sooner.

The ACLU also slammed U.S. Border Patrol for not reporting the incident immediately.

“The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.

Border Patrol is not the only agency being criticized for its lack of care with detained immigrants. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is also facing a $60 million lawsuit after a Guatemalan toddler died of an infection shortly after being released from ICE custody.

As ABC News reported, Yazmin Juarez and her daughter, Mariee, were taken to a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, where medical care is provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Health Services. The child’s mother claimed that her daughter received “inadequate, neglectful” treatment while in custody and she developed a respiratory infecation. She claimed that the detention center where they were placed failing to properly care for her or allow the girl to see a doctor as her condition worsened.

After the mother and daughter were released, they were placed on a plane to New Jersey without doctors clearing her. The girl’s condition worsened during the flight, and she died after being rushed to an emergency room after it landed.