A seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who crossed the southern border into the U.S. illegally this month died of dehydration and shock after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in New Mexico, NPR reports. The girl and her father were in a group of 163 people who surrendered to Border Patrol officers on Dec. 6, south of Lordsburg N.M. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said, “As we have always said, traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring.”
Eight hours after the girl and her father were taken into custody, she began having seizures and her body temperature was measured at 105.7 degrees by emergency responders. The girl “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.” Federal officials will investigate to determine if the agency followed correct procedures and policies. U.S. officials say they are holding almost 15,000 immigrant children in nearly full detention facilities. At the same time, border agents are apprehending more families with children than ever. In November, 25,172 “family units” were apprehended at the southern border, an increase of more than 2,000 families since October. Last year, only 7,016 families were apprehended in November.