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8-year-old girl dies while in federal custody on the border

By William Melhado, The Texas Tribune

8-year-old girl dies while in federal custody on the border” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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An 8-year-old child died while in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday in Harlingen, according to a statement from the federal law enforcement agency.

Details about where the child was from and the cause of her death were not released as of Wednesday evening.

“The child and her family were in custody at the Harlingen Station where she experienced a medical emergency. Emergency Medical Services were called to the station and transported her to the local hospital where she was pronounced dead,” read a statement from CBP released on Wednesday.

Her death comes less than a week after the emergency public health order known as Title 42 expired, which allowed migrants to be turned away during the COVID-19 pandemic without allowing them to request asylum. Some predicted the change would lead to a significant increase in the number of migrants crossing the southern border, but that hasn’t happened, according to Biden administration officials.

Ahead of the Title 42’s expiration, Gov. Greg Abbott sent hundreds of Texas National Guard soldiers to the southern border to prepare for the large groups of migrants expected to enter the United States, and border cities declared a state of emergency.

Abbott did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday evening.

In the statement, CBP said the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility would conduct an investigation of the girl’s death and that the Department of Homeland Security and the Harlingen Police Department were notified.

The last time a minor died in federal custody at the border was four years ago. In May 2019, a 16-year-old from Guatemala died while in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement in a shelter in Brownsville. The previous year, two young children, who were also from Guatemala, died after law enforcement apprehended them.

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