DHS watchdog launches probe into death of 7-year-old migrant girl

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general announced Friday it would investigate the death of a 7-year-old migrant girl who died after being taken into Border Patrol custody.

The watchdog will investigate the circumstances surrounding the girl's death and release a report on its findings, the inspector general's office said in statement.


The inspector general said it would also continue its unannounced inspections of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities.

The Trump administration has said the 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died from dehydration and shock while in U.S. custody. Her death was first reported Thursday.

She had crossed the border last week with her father and a group of other migrants and was taken into custody by Border Patrol in New Mexico.

“My heart goes out to the family for all of DHS,” Homeland Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE said Friday during an appearance on "Fox & Friends."

“This is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey. This family chose to cross illegally. They were about 90 miles away 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.”

The girl reportedly began having seizures eight hours after being detained, and emergency responders found that the girl “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days."

The girl was flown to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, but died less than 24 hours later. NBC News reported Friday that the girl was first treated an hour and a half after showing symptoms.

“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,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances. As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child.” 

As arrests at the border have skyrocketed this year, CBP and other agencies have been detaining migrants in detention facilities that CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has said were built “to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children.”