UPDATE: Dec. 16, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. ET
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents said that Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died in CBP custody, had not eaten or had any water for several days before she and her father, along with a group of more than 160 refugees, turned themselves in asking for asylum Dec. 6.
In a statement released by her family on Saturday, Jakelin’s father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, says that’s not true.
Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, the migrant shelter in El Paso where the girl’s father is staying, read the statement.
“Jakelin’s father is grateful for the many first responders that tried to save young Jakelin’s life in New Mexico and Texas,” Garcia said. But the family wanted to “clarify some key points.”
“She had not suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border.”
According to the Albuquerque Journal, “In their statement, the girl’s family pointed out the cause of death has not been determined and the hospital has not released medical records to her father. The El Paso County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, but a final report will not be ready for weeks.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Published Dec. 15, 2018
After she was taken into U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody, a seven-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock. Congressional Democrats are demanding answers from CBP.
The child was identified on Friday as Jakelin Caal Maquin, in a statement by CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. She and her father were part of a group of 163 people seeking asylum who crossed the southern border into the U.S.
They approached U.S. agents on Dec. 6 to turn themselves in, and were detained by immigration authorities in New Mexico.
According to CBP records, on Dec. 7, the girl started having seizures, and emergency responders measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees. She was taken to El Paso children’s hospital. She died at 12:35 a.m. on Dec. 8.
“Border Patrol Agents, including trained Emergency Medical Technicians, did everything in their power to provide emergency medical assistance for Jakelin Caal Maquin,” McAleenan said. “The agents involved are deeply affected and empathize with the father over the loss of his daughter.”
According to CBP’s statement, “Upon apprehension [on Dec. 6] the Border Patrol Agent conducted an initial screening” and it “revealed no evidence of health issues” and Jakelin’s father allegedly claimed she was in good health.
The CBP also said “the aliens” had access to food, water and restrooms.
But, during the time she was detained, her condition deteriorated without border agents noticing. The Department of Homeland Security is conducting an investigation.
However, in his testimony, he left out that Jakelin died on Dec. 8 of dehydration. That information wasn’t revealed until Thursday, after questioning by The Washington Post.
McAleenan said the child’s death wasn’t announced, “Out of respect to the family.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calf.) tweeted on Friday:
A 7-year-old girl died of dehydration and exhaustion in CBP custody. We need a full and thorough account of what happened ASAP.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) December 14, 2018
On Thursday, seven Democratic U.S. senators — Harris, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey — filed an amicus brief to stop President Trump’s asylum rule, which bars people who enter the country by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from seeking asylum.
“The senators filed an amicus brief in a case brought by six Hondurans who are seeking to file for asylum in the U.S., arguing the asylum seekers are likely to establish that the federal government’s rule violates the Immigration and Nationality Act,” according to Law360.
In November, the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit challenging the asylum ban.