Jakelin Caal Maquin, a Guatemalan migrant, died after eight hours in custody

The White House says it should not be blamed for the death of a 7-year-old immigrant in Border Patrol custody.

US Customs and Border Protection acknowledged Thursday night that a girl from Guatemala died of exhaustion, dehydration, and shock less than 48 hours after being taken into custody with her father and a group of migrants who crossed the border into New Mexico.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Friday, “Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country? No.”

Defending the Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Gidley blamed the migrants for violent crime:

It’s a needless death, and it’s 100% preventable. 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.

The girl began having seizures roughly eight hours after being taken into custody, running a 105.7-degree fever. Customs and Border Protection said she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days”.

She was transported to a hospital where she went into cardiac arrest and was revived, but died less than 24 hours later.

Gidley did not explain if there had been attempts to rehydrate and feed the girl when she was taken into custody. A Department of Homeland Security statement claimed that she and her father were offered food and water, and that “initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues”.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also blamed the father for the “heart-wrenching” death:

This family chose to cross illegally. They were about 90 miles away from where we could process them.

We cannot stress how dangerous the journey is when migrants come illegally.

In April, the Administration launched a zero-tolerance policy which included the separation of children from parents after they crossed the border. After at least 2,800 children were put in detention, the seizures were halted by court rulings. However, several dozen juveniles are still separated and in custody.

The Administration is now pursuing indefinite detention of families, including the establishment of “tent cities”.

Rep. Jeff Merkley criticized on Friday, “We also have now a new strategy of traumatizing children, which is we are going to lock them up, and lock them up with their families in camps.”

The death comes as Donald Trump is threatening to shut down the Federal Government if he does not get funding of his Wall with Mexico.