Migrant Child Dies from Dehydration, Fever, Shock in U.S. Custody as Border Agents Overwhelmed

Ajo Station Border Patrol agents arrest a group of 163 migrants near Lukeville, Arizona. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector)
File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Tucson Sector

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials reported on Thursday evening that a young Guatemalan girl died in custody after she and her father were apprehended last week with a large group of migrants. The 7-year-old girl reportedly died from dehydration, septic shock, and fever, officials stated.

On the evening of December 6, U.S. Border Patrol agents took a group of 163 migrants into custody south of Lordsburg, New Mexico, the Washington Post reported from CBP records Thursday evening. The young girl was reportedly taken into custody with her father as the group surrendered to Border Patrol agents.

The agency’s records show the child began having seizures about eight hours later and her fever rose to 105.7. The statement from CBP said the girl “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days,” the Washington Post reported. Emergency responders arranged a helicopter transport to a hospital in El Paso, Texas. The girl reportedly went into cardiac arrest during the flight and was revived by the medical aircrew.

“However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported,” CBP officials stated.

CBP Spokesman Andrew Meehan told the Washington Post, “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances,” Meehan said. “As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child. Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child.”

The newspaper also reported testimony from CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that his agency’s holding cells are “incompatible” with the massive numbers of families and unaccompanied minors who are now crossing the border seeing to surrender in large groups to the first Border Patrol agent they can find.

“Our border patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children,” McAleenan testified.

The small Lordsburg Border Patrol station does not normally see large numbers of migrants crossing in their area of responsibility. However, in the hours preceding the apprehension of the child and 163 other migrants Thursday night, Lordsburg Station agents apprehended a single group of 227 migrants earlier on Thursday and 123 migrants on Wednesday.

The Lordsburg Station is part of the El Paso Sector which reported a massive increase in migrant families in November 2018 compared to the prior year. In November 2018, agents in the El Paso Sector apprehended 11,617 family units compared to 591 the year before. This represents an increase of 1,866 percent, according to the CBP’s November Southwest Border Migration Report.

In addition, the El Paso Sector apprehended another 1,873 unaccompanied minors, the report states — a 254 percent increase over the prior Novembers report of 529 unaccompanied minors.

This sector rose from receiving a relatively few migrants a year ago to being the second busiest sector along the U.S. border with Mexico. Only the Rio Grande Valley Sector processes more family units and unaccompanied minors.

Results from an autopsy are not expected for several weeks, CBP officials stated.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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