Times Square Billboard Accuses DHS Of Murdering 7-Year-Old Guatemalan Girl Who Died In Border Patrol Custody

Border Patrol agents take immigrants into custody.
John Moore / Getty Images

A Times Square billboard purchased by an immigrants rights group is accusing the Department of Homeland Security of “murdering” a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of Border Patrol earlier this month.

Jakelin Caal died within hours of being picked up by Border Patrol after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. There have been differing reports about how exactly the girl fell ill and what actions the agency took to provide medical treatment, and critics are calling for a thorough investigation into how she died in the agency’s custody. One advocacy group is taking it a step further, the Hill reported.

The group United We Dream has purchased the advertisement showing images of immigrants who died in federal custody. The group said they hope it will fuel opposition to Donald Trump’s border wall.

“Following the death of 7-year-old Jakelin at the border and Trump’s demand of $5 billion for his wall & additional enforcement, @UnitedWeDream launched a new ad in NYC’s Times Square calling on elected officials to reject Trump’s demands,” the group tweeted. “#DefundHate.”

The death of Jakelin Caal has generated plenty of controversy for the Department of Homeland Security. The agency first claimed that the girl had died of dehydration after not being given food or water for five days, but her father disputed this account and said she was healthy when the family first turned themselves into Border Patrol agents.

Attorneys for the girl’s family said that she was not given any water during the roughly eight hours she was in Border Patrol custody before falling ill and being airlifted to a hospital.

As the New York Times reports, the exact circumstances of the girl’s death were not still clear, but critics say that the Trump administration’s decision to shut down legal border crossings has forced immigrants into more dangerous routes into the United States. The administration has also been slammed for a response that critics say is callous.

On Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed blame back onto the girl’s father for bringing her to the United States.

“This family chose to cross illegally. What happened here was that they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them,” Nielsen said, via the Daily Mail.

“It’s heart-wrenching, is what it is. And my heart goes out to the family. All of DHS. You know this is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey.”

Democrats in Congress have vowed to investigate the death of Jakelin Caal after they take control of the House of Representatives early next year.