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14 Dec, 2018 15:37

Officials’ fault or parents’ neglect? 7yo migrant child dies in custody after crossing US border

Officials’ fault or parents’ neglect? 7yo migrant child dies in custody after crossing US border

The death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl in US border patrol custody has triggered discussions. While some blame migration officials, others slam her parents who took her on a dangerous journey.

The girl was travelling with her father within a group of over 100 people; they turned themselves over to migration authorities near Lordsburg, New Mexico on December 6. Early December 7, after spending some eight hours in custody, the child started having seizures and was flown to the hospital. Her body temperature jumped to about 41 °C.

The girl went into cardiac arrest. She didn’t recover and died “less than 24 hours after being transported,” according to the Washington Post. Dehydration, septic shock and fever were said to be the likely cause of her death.

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CBP insisted that the girl “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.” The agency, however, typically provides food and water to migrants in its centers. CBP’s spokesman Andrew Meehan said that the agents “took every possible step” to save the child’s life “under the most trying of circumstances.”

The case has sparked heated debate, with American Civil Liberties Union slamming the migration services for a “lack of accountability and a culture of cruelty.” It also criticized US President Donald Trump and his administration for toughening immigration policies. 

Congressman Joaquin Castro said he would be asking for a full investigation into the case. “This is a humanitarian crisis and we have a moral obligation to ensure these vulnerable families can safely seek asylum, which is legal under immigration and international law at our borders,” he added.

Yet many people on social media unleashed a barrage of criticism not towards ‘inhuman’ immigration authorities and ‘cruel’ Donald Trump, but against the child’s parents. They accused her parents of dragging her miles away from home and putting her in a dangerous situation. 

Starvation and dehydration doesn’t come in 8 hours, people noted, adding that her father probably failed to provide the girl with food and water while on the journey.

Some even demanded her father to be charged with child neglect.

Others concluded that both the girl’s parents and border officials were to blame for the tragic death.

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