Jakelin Caal Maquin and her family fled violence in Guatemala in search of a better life in the United States, but the 7-year-old did not survive the journey.
Now, new details are emerging about how the young girl died of dehydration while in the custody of U.S. Border Patrol agents shortly after her family crossed the border from Mexico. As PBS noted, new details have come to light about the 90 minutes the girl spent between being picked up and when she was first administered medical attention, a long bus journey through a desolate part of New Mexico.
As Amna Nawaz reported, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said the girl and her family were picked up with a group of more than 100 migrants who crossed the border in the evening hours on December 6. It took several hours before a bus was available to take Jakelin and her family from the remote desert area to a Border Patrol station that was about 90 minutes away. Shortly into the bus ride, the girl’s father informed agents that the girl was sick and vomiting.
By the time she arrived at the station, Jakelin had already stopped breathing and was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso. Doctors found that the young girl was dehydrated and had swelling around her brain. She died the next morning.
It was not clear if the girl was given water during that time, and many are now demanding that Border Patrol answer how the girl died in their custody.
The Trump administration has deflected blame, saying that migrant parents should not subject their children to the harrowing journey from Mexico to the United States. They also credited Border Patrol agents for trying to save the girl’s life.
“Without the lifesaving measures undertaken by Border Patrol, this child would have likely died in the desert alone without any medical care whatsoever,” a Department of Homeland Security official said Friday. “The entire department is heartbroken by this loss of life.”
Heartbreaking to learn of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin's tragic and preventable death in federal detention. With this Administration, we see more man-made, Trump-inflamed, injustices on the border—borne most brutally by the smallest children. https://t.co/2K3jHZBhKc— Lloyd Doggett (@RepLloydDoggett) December 15, 2018
But the Trump administration has come under fire for its treatment of migrants, including the closure of some legal ports of entry that force them to attempt more dangerous and illegal border crossings. The Texas Tribune reported that the Trump administration’s policy to separate immigrant children from their parents was being applied even to those crossing at these legal entry points, and armed Border Patrol guards sometimes prevented people from crossing at all.
The death of Jakelin Caal Maquin is now under investigation by the Border Patrol’s Inspector General’s office. The findings will be released publicly once the investigation has concluded, the office announced.