Contradicting claims from border officials, family attorneys say Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin was given no water during the entirety of the eight hours she was jailed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), The Washington Post reports. “What we do know,” said attorney Christopher Benoit, “and what our client is unequivocal with, is that no water was provided to either him or his daughter.”
“CBP officials,” The Washington Post continued, “have said food and water were available at the small border outpost in New Mexico where Jakelin and her father were held after crossing into the United States on the night of Dec. 6, and that the child consumed both after having nothing to eat or drink for several days.”
But representatives for Jakelin’s father, Nery, “called that account inaccurate at a Saturday press conference,” The Daily Beast reported. The child was eating and “fine as she was traveling through Mexico,” according to Texas’s Annunciation House, which is currently sheltering him. It was when they got to the CBP facility that Jakelin began the sharp decline that eventually led to her tragic death.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, among the House Democrats who visited the facility where the two were held, said the site has a “water contamination issue” and no running water, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Al Green, another House Democrat, said he saw children huddled in foil blankets. Temperatures in these facilities can be freezing—it’s why advocates have long called them hieleras, or iceboxes. “The only reason why this facility is still open as it is now,” Green said, “is because these cameras can’t get in.”
The family’s attorneys also say that following Jakelin’s death, Nery was made to sign documents he didn’t understand, “raising the possibility that U.S. authorities sought an agreement—as he was grieving—to voluntarily leave the country.” Nery speaks Spanish as a second language, but his primary language is Mayan Q’eqchi.
The announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General has opened an investigation into Jakelin’s death is now all the more imperative, because finding out what exactly happened will help save other lives. Since the revelation of Jakelin’s death, CBP officials have revealed that two other detained kids, including a five month old, fell seriously ill.