WASHINGTON – Last week a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl in Border Patrol custody died of dehydration and shock at the U.S. border. 8 hours after being taken into custody, she began suffering seizures and spiked a fever of 105.7 degrees Fahrenheit when she was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
A White House spokesman reacted by denying responsibility for the girl’s death, issuing a statement that contained Donald Trump’s favorite false accusations, linking “those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking” to this tragedy. Despite “condolences” from Homeland Security, the department that oversees the Border Patrol, they claimed they “were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring” while essentially blaming the father for the death of his daughter. The White House has failed to express sorrow for the child’s loss, sympathy for her family, or resolve to protect the health and safety of migrants.
This reprehensible border policy is now taking the most dreadful toll. This child’s death is part of a continuum of cruelty. It has taken the life of a transgender woman who died in ICE custody after being savagely beaten during her confinement. It has injured a Guatemalan mother who was impaled in front of her children while attempting to climb the border fence. And elsewhere, we have seen tear gas used by the U.S. government against children and families. Meanwhile, asylum seekers who are domestic violence survivors will no longer be granted asylum in the U.S.
The courts and the Congress must step in to stop the human rights abuses that are taking place at the border. We are all in mourning over this senseless, tragic loss of life—but we know it won’t be the last unless we stop Donald Trump’s cruel and hate-filled policies of border separation and detention.