Customs and Border Protection is facing some tough questions after the death of a 7-year-old girl in its custody. The girl, a migrant from Guatemala, died from dehydration and shock after she was taken into CBP custody with her father on Dec. 6, the Washington Post reports. They were part of a group of 163 people who surrendered to CBP agents in New Mexico after crossing a remote stretch of desert. CBP says the girl "had not eaten or consumed water for several days." According to the agency's records, she began having seizures around eight hours after she was taken into custody. She was flown to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, but died within 24 hours.
It's not clear whether the girl was given food or water after she was taken into custody. Activists have long complained about the condition of Border Patrol facilities, and it's possible the agency could have been overwhelmed by dealing with such a large group of migrants, the Telegraph reports. The ACLU called for a "rigorous investigation," saying the death shows a "lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP." Agency spokesman Andrew Meehan offered "sincerest condolences" to the girl's family. "Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances," he said in a statement to the Post. "As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child." (An advocacy group has accused Border Patrol agents of using the desert as a "weapon.")