Members of congress react to New Mexico facility where girl died

Immigration

Hispanic lawmakers went to New Mexico Tuesday, looking for more information following the death of a 7-year old Guatemalan girl while in Border Patrol custody.

U.S. Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) says more families and children are fleeing their home countries seeking asylum in the United States. 

Escobar and 12 other Democratic members from congress toured CBP facilities in Lordsburg and Antelope Wells, N.M. on Tuesday after 7-year-old Jakelin Caal died in earlier this month.

This is the same area where Jakelin and her father were apprehended on Dec. 6. She died two days later while in Border Patrol custody. 

Government officials have said the child had gone days without food and water, however her father disputes that claim. Meanwhile, the Border Patrol Union president is asking for more resources to protect agents and immigrants

After the tour, Escobar said changes need to be made to the Trump Administration’s border policies.

“It really is a tragedy in many respects of not having the appropriate resources or training for the way migration has changed,” Escobar said. “The agents themselves will tell you there’s a shift with who is crossing the border.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) said the Border Patrol Commissioner broke the law by failing to notify Congress of Jakelin’s death within 24 hours. 

The members of Congress also said they saw some disturbing things in their visit. 

Castro said there was no running water in the Antelope Wells Facility, and there are only two port-a-potties available for both agents and migrants.

The group agreed that the circumstances were unfit for families and children seeking help and they stressed the lack of appropriate medical care in the facility. 

Democratic members from the Hispanic caucus want to conduct a separate investigation into her death and they say Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan should resign.

“There are some very systemic problems and failures in the system to provide the care a child so lovingly deserves when they are in their custody,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.). 

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