The White House said on Dec. 14 that the death of a 7-year-old migrant was a tragedy but said it was “100 percent preventable.”
The young girl was apprehended as part of a large group of people who crossed into the United States on Dec. 6. The girl began having seizures while in Border Patrol custody. She was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso and suffered a heart attack.
She was revived but did not recover and died within a day of suffering the heart attack, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
“It’s a horrific, tragic situation. Our hearts go out to the family and to anyone who’s suffered any type of danger and peril that they see so often when they make that trek up from the southern border,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters on the White House lawn on Friday. “It’s a sad time, but it’s also senseless. It’s a needless death and it’s 100 percent preventable.”
Gidley added, “If we could just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking, that would all come to an end. And we hope Democrats join the president.”
President Donald Trump has urged lawmakers to fund the border wall, which he said would cut down on illegal immigration, citing data that indicates the current portions of the wall have helped curtail migrants entering the United States outside ports of entry.
He said he’d shut down the government if Republicans and Democrats couldn’t come together and provide at least $5 billion for the wall, which is estimated to cost $25 billion total.
On Nov. 25, a mob of migrant caravan members tried rushing the border but were slowed down by a portion of the wall and were ultimately dispersed by tear gas fired by Border Patrol agents.
A reporter on Friday asked Gidley if the administration would be “taking any responsibility for the girl’s death.”
“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country? No,” he responded.
The Department of Homeland Security previously noted that traveling north through Mexico is extremely dangerous.
“Every year the Border Patrol saves hundreds of people who are overcome by the elements between our ports of entry. 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,” the department said in the statement. “Once again, we are begging parents to not put themselves or their children at risk attempting to enter illegally.”
Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child,” the department added.
An autopsy was planned and an internal investigation was launched to determine if agents followed proper procedures, but officials said agents had provided care once they noticed the girl’s condition.
It wasn’t clear if the girl was part of the migrant caravans, which are primarily entering California.