Lawmakers Demand Answers on Death of Migrant Child Who Died in CBP Custody
The death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old immigrant in Border Patrol custody, has sparked international outrage. The anger intensified after the White House on Friday called Jakelin’s death “tragic” but said the Trump administration is not to blame. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsenessentially blamed the family for her death saying, “This family chose to cross illegally.” Members of Congress immediately went into action. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus said it was sending a delegation to the Border Patrol station where Jakelin fell ill to learn more about the circumstances surrounding her death. "This is not who we are or who we want to be as a nation. We must understand what led to this child's death and how these stations are equipped to protect the health and safety of those seeking refuge at our borders," said incoming Hispanic Caucus Chair Congressman Joaquín Castro (D-TX). In a bicameral letter, House Dems Ben Ray Luján (NM), Michelle Luján Grisham (NM), Marc Veasey (TX), and Castro wrote to Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demanding an immediate investigation. They were joined in the letter by NM Democratic Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. “Her death raises significant questions about the leadership at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP’s ability to appropriately respond to the humanitarian crisis happening at our southern borders and the agency’s ability to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future,” the lawmakers wrote. “[I]t is unacceptable that it took more than a week for reports of the child’s death to become public. Congress requires [CBP] to report the death of any individual in CBP custody within 24 hours including relevant details regarding the circumstances of the fatality.” The lawmakers requested a full investigation and made specific demands of the CBP. They want a specific timeline of events; a meeting with the CBP Commissioner; a complete accounting about what may have informed CBP’s response; a detailed report about wait times for families, children seeking to present at every port of entry and the metering policies at each port of entry, and the agency’s standard of care for all adults and minors who enter their custody; and a commitment to start complying with the reporting requirement. There were only four agents working with a group of 163 migrants, including 50 unaccompanied children, and only one bus to take them to the nearest station 94 miles away. More here.