New details have emerged about Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old girl who recently died while in the custody of the United States Border Patrol, a development that has sparked national outrage and is raising questions about the treatment of migrants who have been detained at the sourthen U.S. border.
According to The Associated Press, Jakelin is from a remote indigenous community in Guatemala, where her mother and three siblings still live. Jakelin’s father, Nery Caal, reportedly decided to migrate with his daughter in the hopes of earning more money in the U.S. Family members told the AP that Jakelin had been hoping to learn to read and write, and, perhaps, get her first toy.
Nery reportedly paid a human smuggler to ferret them into the U.S., but they were detained along with dozens of other migrants in a New Mexico dessert. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the girl appeared healthy, and her father signed a form attesting to the fact that she was in good health.
But after being placed on a bus that was transporting migrants to a Border Patrol station, Jakelin started to vomit and felt warm. By the time emergency personnel arrived 90 minutes later, she had stopped breathing and her temperature had soared to 105.9 degrees, according to ABC News. Jakelin was airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she later died. Officials said her brain had swelled and her liver had failed.
Officials also said that Jakelin had consumed little food and water prior to her arrival in the United States, but her father maintains that this is not true.
Questions are now being asked about whether more could have been done to save Jakelin. At the time of the pair’s detainment, just four agents were on hand to work with 163 migrants, including 50 unaccompanied minors. Only one bus was dispatched to transport the group to the station, which was 94 miles away. The bus first departed with the unaccompanied children, leaving Jakelin and her father to wait around eight hours before they embarked on the bus.
The fact that it took a week for news of Jakelin’s death to come to light has also sparked outrage.
“We can do better as a nation,” U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas said. “This is a humanitarian crisis and we have a moral obligation to ensure these vulnerable families can safely seek asylum, which is legal under immigration and international law at our borders.” Now, her family is calling for a fair and transparent investigation into what led to the child’s death.
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Read the full story at The Associated Press.