The federal government is now investigating how a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died in the custody of Border Patrol agents after crossing into the U.S., south of Deming.
She was in a large group that surrendered at the border eight days ago, and now local and national groups are demanding answers.
“It’s a horrific, tragic situation. Obviously, our hearts go out to the family,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Friday.
The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry identified her as Jakeline Caal, who was reportedly traveling with her father and about 160 other migrants before they were taken into custody near Antelope Wells at the New Mexico border.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the initial screening showed the girl displayed no signs of sickness and the father denied his daughter was ill.
But a few hours later, officials said the girl’s father claimed she had been vomiting and did not eat or drink for four days.
Officials told CBS the girl was running a temperature of 105 degrees by the time crews got on scene.
She was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso where she later died.
The ACLU in New Mexico also wants answers.
“We are demanding that the agency answer questions like, ‘Why was this little girl in custody for eight hours without adequate medical care?'” ACLU New Mexico Attorney Kristin Love said.
Friday, the White House denied responsibility.
“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country? No,” Gidley explained. “If we can just come together and pass some common sense laws to de-incentivize people from coming up from the border, and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way.”
Congressman Beto O’Rourke at a town hall in El Paso on Friday suggested a different type of change.
“The solution is not walls,” O’Rourke said. “It’s not more partisanship and rhetoric. It’s understanding what our values are, what we want to achieve, what our ambitions and aspirations are, and legislating accordingly.”
An autopsy was scheduled and officials said those results could take weeks.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reviewing the incident, including “how to notify the public when there is a death in their custody,” according to CBS.