Seven-year-old Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin died of “a rapidly progressive infection” known as streptococcal sepsis while in federal immigration custody last December, an autopsy has found. Doctors who have reviewed the report told the New York Times that her infection was so aggressive, she “probably would have been visibly sick for many hours” before her death.
Contradicting claims from the government, family attorneys say Jakelin was given no water by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials during the entirety of the eight hours after she was initially detained. By the time she and her dad Nery were being transferred to another facility, she’d begun having seizures. “She later was airlifted to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso where she went into cardiac arrest,” USA Today reported. “She was revived again but died a short time later on Dec. 8.”
Congressional Democrats who later visited the facility where Jakelin and her dad were first held condemned its conditions, with Rep. Al Green of Texas saying that “the only reason why this facility is still open as it is now is because these cameras can’t get in.” Her advocates said that her death is a tragic example of how federal immigration agencies have been totally unprepared to properly care for people, particularly children, in their custody.
“Clearly there was no meaningful observation or evaluation of this child,” Rep. Raul Ruiz of California told the New York Times. “It is the legal responsibility of C.B.P. to provide for the humanitarian needs and the health needs of the children under their custody while being detained.” Jakelin was one of two children to lose their lives while being detained by CBP in just that one month alone.
Felipe Gómez Alonzo spent six days getting shuffled from cold facility to cold facility before getting sick while in CBP custody, ultimately dying on Christmas Eve. He was just 8 years old. Rather than express any sympathy, Donald Trump blamed their deaths on both the children’s parents and his political opponents. Then, on the same day Jakelin’s autopsy report was released, he resumed his attacks on her dad.
More answers should be coming, following the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General’s opening of an investigation into Jakelin’s death. House Democrats are also conducting their own probes into both children’s deaths. Jakelin’s father, Nery, who is currently living with relatives in Philadelphia as he waits for his asylum claim to play out, is waiting. “I wanted to know what happened,” he said.