Potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and progressive activists spent Thursday weaponizing the death of a 7-year-old migrant girl who reportedly died in U.S. Border Patrol custody — though officials say she hadn’t eaten or consumed water for several days before the arrest.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a likely leading 2020 contender, immediately jumped on the news, calling for the investigation.
“This is tragic. We need a full and thorough account of what happened before this 7-year-old girl died of dehydration and exhaustion in CBP custody,” Harris wrote in a tweet.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., another possible 2020 contender, also issued a tweet amid the reports.
“Shaken by this news. My heart breaks for this young girl and her family,” he wrote.
The girl, originally from Guatemala, was part of a 163 migrant group that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally and surrendered to the border agents Dec. 6.
Just eight hours later, the girl began having seizures and was flown to an El Paso, Texas, hospital where she received treatment, according to the Washington Post.
Customs and Border Protection officials said the girl was dehydrated as hadn’t eaten or consumed water for several days before she was detained with other migrants.
Other Democrats also spoke out about the tragic death of the girl. Ben Rhodes, a former adviser to former President Barack Obama, blamed the girl’s death on rhetoric about the migrant caravan.
“This little girl deserved so much better. Don’t ever give into dehumanizing rhetoric about caravans and immigrants. This is where that leads. Every child has a dignity that must be cherished,” he wrote in a tweet.
Progressive activist Shaun King, meanwhile, said the country and President Trump were responsible for the death of the migrant.
My God. Shame on our country and shame on Donald Trump,” he wrote. “These aren’t thugs & criminals. They are people desperate for safe harbor. This is a grave sin.”
The Women’s March seconded, claiming the Trump administration’s border enforcement policies led to the death of the girl.
“Horrifying. She should never have been put in a detention center. She never should have been neglected once taken into custody. Her death is on this administration’s hands,” the progressive group wrote.
It remained unclear what happened during the eight hours the girl spent in the Border Patrol’s detention facilities, which are meant to be temporary and aren’t designed to fit the 163 migrants who surrendered.
Usually, an arrested migrant gets processed at the temporary facility, where he or she spends no more than 72 hours before they either get deported home or transferred to the jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Border Patrol previously said there is an increasing trend of large groups of migrants, many with young children, crossing the border and then turning themselves in. Some say they are fleeing violence and wish to apply for asylum.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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