After a 7-year-old migrant girl from Guatemala died of dehydration while in the custody of Border Patrol, video has resurfaced showing agents dumping water that humanitarian groups had left in the desert so that migrants do not die of thirst on their harrowing journey.
Reports of the Guatemalan girl’s death surfaced on Thursday, with the Washington Post reporting that she and her family were taken into custody after crossing the border with a group of more than 100 migrants. Close to eight hours after the girl was taken into custody, she started having seizures and medical staff found that she had a fever of 105.7 degrees. The girl was airlifted to a hospital but later died of dehydration and shock.
The girl’s death has sparked a backlash and calls for an investigation of why she did not receive proper medical treatment after being taken into custody. Doctors said that the girl had nothing to eat or drink for several days after traveling through the Mexican desert and crossing into New Mexico.
Border Patrol was also blasted for not reporting the girl’s death sooner.
“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.
The death of the 7-year-old girl has also brought new attention to actions that Border Patrol agents have taken in the past to thwart humanitarian groups seeking to help migrants. In a segment on MSNBC that aired last year, Border Patrol agents could be seen dumping and destroying jugs of water left in the desert along routes that migrants take to reach the United States. The report noted that migrants have been known to die of thirst and heat exposure during their trip, and many aid groups try to help them.
The video of Border Patrol agents dumping water was shared in response to a statement from the agency that appeared to place blame on the migrants that cross the border. The agency “begged” parents not to cross the border with their children and called on migrants to present themselves at a port of entry and “seek to enter legally and safely.”
— ⛄ Jingle Kells ⛄ (@justkelly_ok) December 14, 2018
But the Trump administration has been accused of not allowing immigrants to cross the legal ports of entry, forcing them instead to attempt illegal and more dangerous crossings. A report from the Texas Tribune found that even immigrants who presented at legal entry points had their children taken and placed in detention centers, and armed Border Patrol guards sometimes prevented people from crossing at all.