The parents of a 6-year-old Indian girl who died this month in the Arizona desert say they made the journey because they were desperate.
“We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” Gurupreet Kaur’s parents said in a statement Monday. “We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, color or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm’s way unless they are desperate.”
In the statement, which was released by the nonprofit Sikh Coalition, the parents — identified as S. Kaur and A. Singh — asked for privacy and said their family is heartbroken over Gurupreet’s death.
“We will carry the burden of the loss of our beloved Gurupreet for a lifetime,” the statement said, “but we will also continue to hold onto the hope that America remains a compassionate nation grounded in the immigrant ideals that make diversity this nation’s greatest strength.”
Border Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body this month about 17 miles west of Lukeville, Arizona, just over the US-Mexico border. The agency said she had been traveling with her mother, but the two were separated when the mother went to search for water.
The girl’s father, A. Singh, has been living in the United States since 2013 with a pending asylum application before the New York immigration court, Sikh Coalition Program Director Mark Reading-Smith said.
Pima County Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Hess determined that Gurupreet’s death was accidental and caused by heatstroke.
A private funeral will be held Friday in New York City, “the city her family had hoped to make their home,” Reading-Smith said.