What we know about the Guatemalan girl who died while in Border Patrol custody


More facts surrounding the shocking death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl have become public on Friday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed the death of Jakelin Caal in a conference call.

Here are some of the facts that have been confirmed by officials or released in reports.

Where was she from?

The foreign ministry said Friday that the girl and her father were from an area in northern Guatemala called Raxruha in Alta Verapaz department.

Where did they enter the U.S?

CBP and DHS officials confirmed that the girl and her father entered the country at about 9 p.m. on Dec. 6 with a group of 163 migrants at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry near, which is about three hours west of El Paso.

How did she die?

Officials said she died from dehydration and septic shock, however Border Patrol officials have said an autopsy will be conducted.

Was she sick?

Officials said the girl’s father, identified as Nery Caal, did not report any health issue for either him or his daughter. However, the Washington Post reported that the health questionnaire is in Spanish and the girl and her father speak ‘Q’eqchi’.

What exactly happened when they crossed?

At 5 a.m. on Dec. 7 the girl and her father boarded a bus for Lordsburg. While on the bus, the dad let agents know she was sick and vomiting.

When the bus arrived at 6:30 a.m. in Lordsburg, paramedics were standing by, but her temperature was already 105.9 degrees.

She was then flown to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at 9 a.m. She was admitted to the ICU and died two days later.

Who is investigating?

DHS and CBP said they are still investigating the death. On Friday, the DHS Office of Inspector General said it will launch an investigation and file a report with the DHS Secretary, Congress and the public.

What did the White House say?

“It’s a sad time but it’s also senseless, it’s a needless death and it’s 100 percent preventable if we could just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley.

What El Paso officials are saying?

“I am deeply saddened by this girl’s death. There must be a complete investigation and the results shared with Congress and the public,” said U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso).

“My heart breaks for this family. These refugees, already fleeing tragic conditions, see no end to their suffering once they cross our borders. We must address the root causes of Central American migration and help these families achieve safety and security,” said U.S. Rep-elect Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso).

What are CBP officials saying?

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan:

“Border Patrol Agents, including trained Emergency Medical Technicians did everything in their power to provide emergency medical assistance for Jakelin Caal Maquin immediately after her father notified the agents of her distress at a remote Forward Operating Base, 94 miles from the nearest Border Patrol Station. Border Patrol Agents revived Jakelin twice before emergency responders arrived via air ambulance to continue medical care.  Emergency Medical professionals transported her by helicopter to the nearest children’s hospital.”

“Despite our trained EMT agents’ best efforts fighting for Jakelin’s life, and the work of the Hidalgo County and Providence Children’s Hospital medical teams treating her, we were unable to rescue her.”

“The agents involved are deeply affected and empathize with the father over the loss of his daughter.”

“We cannot stress enough the dangers posed by traveling long distances, in crowded transportation, or in the natural elements through remote desert areas without food, water and other supplies. No one should risk injury, or even death, by crossing our border unlawfully.  This is why I asked Congress on Tuesday to change our laws so that the United States is not incentivizing families to take this dangerous path.”

What did Rep. Castro said?

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said: “I am devastated by reports of a seven-year-old girl who had been taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection who died due to dehydration and exhaustion. I will be asking the Inspector General and Congress to conduct a full investigation into the conditions and circumstances that led to her death.

“We can and must do better as a nation. A Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report found that the Trump Administration’s policy of limiting asylum seekers at ports of entry forces families to cross the border in between ports of entry, this includes making dangerous treks across the desert in search of safety, and a better life. 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.” 

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