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Girl, 7, dies in Border Patrol custody after suffering seizure and high fever

7-year-old migrant girl dies in U.S. custody
7-year-old girl dies in U.S. custody after entering country illegally 00:37

A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala who had entered the country illegally last week has died in custody, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to CBS News Thursday. The girl died from dehydration and shock, reported The Washington Post, which first broke the story.

The girl and her father were taken into custody on Dec. 6 around 10 p.m., south of Lordsburg, New Mexico, the Post reported. They were among 163 migrants who turned themselves in at the border.

Homeland Security said she started having seizures more than eight hours later. Her body temperature was recorded by emergency responders as 105.7 degrees.

The Border Patrol told the Post in a statement that she "reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days."

She was transported via helicopter to an El Paso hospital, where she died less than 24 hours later. The DHS said be autopsy would  be performed on the girl.

Her father is still in El Paso awaiting a meeting with Guatemalan consular officials, the Post reports.

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who represents El Paso in Congress until Jan. 1, tweeted he is "deeply saddened" by the girl's death. O'Rourke called for a "complete investigation and the results shared with Congress and the public."

New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking member and soon-to-be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted the Post story Thursday and wrote that the panel would be "will be demanding immediate answers to this tragedy" from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The executive director of trhe ACLU in New Mexico, Peter Simonson, issued a statement saying, "Jailing children and allowing them to die on our watch does not make America great. This child's death was the inevitable result of this administration's cruel and inhumane border enforcement policies. ... We demand full and transparent investigation into the circumstances of this child's death, and call on the government to institute systemic reforms that prevent this kind of senseless tragedy from ever happening again."

The number of families apprehended illegally crossing the border from Mexico reached a record high in November for the fourth consecutive month. CBP said 25,172 families were detained between ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border in November.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Katie Waldman told CBS News last week the steady increase is a "predictable result of a broken immigration system — including flawed judicial rulings."

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters Friday that it was "a needless death" and "100 percent preventable."

"If we could just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths ... would all come to an end," Gidley said. He also said that the Trump administration did not take responsibility for the girl's death.

On Dec. 7, a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a temporary restraining order by a district court judge that blocked a White House directive that would make immigrants who cross into the U.S. illegally ineligible for asylum.

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