Originally published by The Hill
Democrats are ripping the Trump administration over the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody earlier this month.
“We can and must do better as a nation,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the incoming chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).
“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,” Castro added in a statement.
The girl died on Dec. 6 at an El Paso hospital, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Thursday.
The girl, her father and around 100 other immigrants crossed the border illegally into New Mexico, and were taken into custody by the Border Patrol.
She started having seizures eight hours after being taken into custody, and was taken to El Paso in a helicopter.
A CBP report showed that emergency responders concluded the girl had not consumed food or water “for several days,” according to The Washington Post.
A DHS spokesperson sent the agency’s condolences and warned against the dangers of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry.
“As we have always said, traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous. Drug cartels, human smugglers and the elements pose deadly risks to anyone who comes across the border illegally,” said the representative in an email.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring. Once again, we are begging parents to not put themselves or their children at risk attempting to enter illegally. Please present yourselves at a port of entry and seek to enter legally and safely,” the spokesperson added.
But Democrats, who are set to take over the House in January, say they’ll use their oversight powers to investigate this and other similar cases.
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), who is expected to head the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee starting January, tweeted that she is “horrified, heartbroken, and infuriated” over the girl’s death.
“This is yet another example of how the Trump Administration puts NO value on the lives and dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters. I am FIERCELY committed to fighting that cruelty with every power of my office and every breath in my body,” said Roybal-Allard.
“This family chose to cross illegally. They were about 90 miles away where we could process them. They came in such a large crowd that it took our border patrol folks a couple times to get them all. We gave immediate care. We’ll continue to look into the situation,” Nielsen said.
The girl’s death happened a day before Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the presumptive incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Ronald Vitiello a letter demanding further information on the death of another Guatemalan citizen, Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez.
Hernandez Rodriguez died in an ICE adult detention in May, of “severe complications of dehydration.”