A South Asian group has sought a probe into the death of a six-year-old girl, whose body was found along the US-Mexico border in Arizona, alleging that militarisation of the area and rejection of migrants attempting to cross at the entry ports have created an inhuman environment.
The body of Gurupreet Kaur was found by the US Border Patrol officials 27 kilometres west of Lukeville, Arizona last week, when temperature reached a high of 42 degrees Celsius.
The girl was travelling with four other people, including her mother, and was dropped near the border by human smugglers who ordered the group to cross in the dangerous and austere location. Ms Kaur's mother left her with a woman and her child and went in search of water.
"We are devastated to learn the death of Gurupreet Kaur," Lakshmi Sridaran, interim co-executive director of the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), said in a statement.
The group said it will send a letter of inquiry to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K McAleenan this week, demanding a probe into the girl's death and information about her mother and the other migrants in their group.
"US border militarisation, forced migration and rejection of migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry have created an environment where a child like Gurupreet can die in the desert alone," Ms Sridaran said. "Until a new system is created that upholds the dignity of all migrants, we will continue to see unspeakable tragedies, not withstanding the countless deaths that go undocumented."
While ICE and CBP have experienced unprecedented surges in their budgets, their treatment of migrants has plunged to new lows, she added.
Indian American attorney Ravi Batra termed Ms Kaur's death a heart wrenching story. "That her adult parent(s) made the conscious choice to enter the attractive not-so-porous Southern Border of the United States hiring human traffickers is criminally negligent," he said.
The number of Indians crossing the US border from Mexico has steadily risen in recent years, according to immigration officials. They are among thousands of Africans and Asian migrants making the arduous journey, led by smuggling cartels. Last year, more than 9,000 people from India were detained at US borders nationwide -- a big increase from the prior year, when that number was about 3,100. A decade ago, in 2009, the number was 204.
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