Disputing the account laid out by U.S. officials, the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Central American girl who died under care of the U.S. Border Patrol says that she was in good health as she traveled through Mexico with her 29-year-old father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz.
In a statement released by lawyers for the family, Jakelin had adequate food and water and was healthy while she was traveling through Mexico.
"Prior to going into CBP custody and contrary to the report that Jakelin has 'not eaten or had any water for several days,' Jakelin has not been crossing the desert for days," reads the statement in part. "Jakelin's father took care of Jakelin -- made sure she was fed and had sufficient water. She and her father sought asylum from border patrol as soon as they crossed the border. She had not suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border."
Jakelin and her father reached the U.S. border near the Antelope Wells port of entry in New Mexico. Border Patrol agents interviewed the pair the morning of the 6th to determine if they needed medical care, and Jakelin's father signed a form saying that she was healthy,
The form was in English, a language the father doesn't understand. The father speaks Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language, as well as Spanish as a second language.
Early the next morning, the father told agents that his daughter was sick and vomiting, and border patrol agents summoned an EMT to meet with their bus. She passed early on the 8th.
Jakelin was severely dehydrated when she passed, though officials claim all migrants were given water while at Antelope Wells.
The Department of Homeland Security has claimed, via a Facebook post, that Jakelin's father told them that she, "had not been able to consume water or food for days."
The also claimed that the duo traveled, "through remote and barren terrain," a view others dispute. According to Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, the family had been dropped off only about a 90-minute walk from the border.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security blames Jakelin's family for the death, saying in a statement that, "traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous." while reiterating that people should reach a port of entry to "enter legally and safely."
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen echoed this in a Fox & Friends appearance, saying that Jakelin's death, "is a very sad example of the dangers" faced by migrants.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus plan to visit Lordsburg Station, the detention site, this coming week.
Image via the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin
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