On Thursday night, the Washington Post reported that a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl died of “dehydration and shock” after eight hours in Border Patrol custody with her father last week. The family, part of a larger group, had voluntarily turned themselves in after crossing the border in New Mexico. The girl began to have seizures around six in the morning, and her body temperature was 105.7 degrees when emergency responders arrived. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.” She died less than 24 hours later.
Now, a sane person might think this raises questions about conditions at Border Patrol custody points. For instance, why wasn’t the girl given food or water in eight hours? The ACLU hit the nail on the head:
The ACLU blamed “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP” for the girl’s death. “The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.
As for Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who previously lied to protect the administration during the child separation crisis? Well, accountability isn’t exactly her game—she went on Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite show, to blame the parents. Watch:
“This is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey. This family chose to cross illegally…What happened was they were about 90 miles away from 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, but again, I cannot stress enough how dangerous this journey is when migrants choose to come here illegally.”
As Splinter noted, she ignored several important issues:
Border Patrol agents routinely destroy water and supplies left by humanitarian groups in the desert. They shoot tear gas and pepper spray at children and asylum-seekers. They militarize legal points of entry—even physically blocking them with armed officers—to discourage entry, all after signing off on zero tolerance policies that tear apart families.
And then there’s the biggest issue, and perhaps the most infuriating when it comes to the “why are these parents doing this??” crowd: Nobody is putting themselves or their children in situations of such danger and trauma unless something worse awaits them at home. These are the acts of hopeless people, and blaming them for their desperation is truly sick.