Close  
  • share this

Family of migrant girl disputes official story on her death

/ 11:49 PM December 16, 2018
Border Patrol agents

In this photo, taken June 23, 2015, Border Patrol agents wait for other units in the Animas Valley in New Mexico’s boot heel area. A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, picked up with her father and dozens of other migrants along the remote stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, has died, federal officials said Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (Photo by ROBERTO E. ROSALES / The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

The family of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody is disputing an account from U.S. officials who said she had not been given food or water for days.

READ: Death of 7-year-old on U.S. border raises questions

In a statement released by lawyers, the parents of Jakelin Caal said the girl had been given food and water and appeared to be in good health as she traveled through Mexico with her father, 29-year-old Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz.

ADVERTISEMENT

The family added that Jakelin had not been traveling through the desert for days before she was taken into custody.

Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, told The Associated Press that he spoke with the Jakelin’s father. The consul said Nery Caal told him the group they were traveling with was dropped off in Mexico about a 90-minute walk from the border.

FEATURED STORIES

Border Patrol officials did not immediately respond to the family’s comments.

The family’s statement was released Saturday during a news conference in El Paso, Texas, at an immigrant shelter where Jakelin’s father is staying. Her family did not attend and has asked for privacy.

Jakelin and her father were seeking asylum in the U.S. and were among a large group of migrants arrested Dec. 6 near a remote border crossing in New Mexico. Hours later they were placed on a bus to the nearest Border Patrol station, but Jakelin began vomiting and eventually stopped breathing. She later died at a Texas hospital.

Border Patrol officials on Friday said agents did everything they could to save the girl but that she had not had food or water for days. They added that an initial screening showed no evidence of health problems, and that her father had signed a form indicating she was in good health.

But the family took issue with that form, which was in English, a language her father doesn’t speak or read. He communicated with border agents in Spanish but he primarily speaks the Mayan Q’eqchi’ language.

“It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand,” the statement said.

Jakelin’s family is urging authorities to conduct an “objective and thorough” investigation into the death and to determine whether officials met standards for the arrest and custody of children.

ADVERTISEMENT

A cause of death has not yet been released. A private prayer service was held in Texas on Friday so her father could see Jakelin’s body before it is taken to Guatemala, said Ruben Garcia, director of the Annunciation House shelter where her father is staying.

“All of us were moved by the depth of his faith and his trust that God’s hand is in all of this,” Garcia said.

Family members in Guatemala said Caal decided to migrate with his favorite child to earn money he could send back home. Jakelin’s mother and three siblings remained in San Antonio Secortez, a village of about 420 inhabitants. /atm

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Guatemalan migrant girl, Jakelin Caal, migrants from Central America, US Border Patrol
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
newsinfo

4 fall in Lucena hotel buy-bust

January 19, 2019 09:49 AM

globalnation

DFA: No Filipinos hurt in Bogota car bombing

January 19, 2019 09:38 AM

newsinfo

Pagasa: LPA to bring rain over Mindanao, Visayas

January 19, 2019 09:01 AM

entertainment

LOOK: Andi Manzano gives birth to 2nd baby girl

January 19, 2019 08:32 AM




© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.