Family of 7-year-old who died in US custody demand 'thorough' investigation

Junie Sihlangu
Dec 17, 2018
09:52 A.M.

Earlier this month Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, who was only five days past her birthday, died after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with her father. Her death while in custody of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).


On Saturday, her family released a statement asking for a “thorough” investigation into her death.

Jakelin Caal Maquin’s family finally addressed her death calling for a "transparent and neutral investigation." Ruben Garcia, the director of Annunciation House, a non-profit organization working with her family read their statement on Saturday.

He said her death should be investigated within "nationally recognized standards for the arrest and custody of children. Garcia was reading the statement which was prepared by the family’s attorneys.


For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. During a press conference that afternoon in El Paso, Texas, Garcia read:

"The family intends to assist in such an investigation into the cause and circumstances of Jakelin's death.”

The non-profit’s director was speaking on behalf of Garcia Jakelin's parents: her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz and her mother Claudia Marivel Maquin Coc. While reading the statement, Garcia also highlighted why Cruz had illegally crossed the border with his daughter.


Garcia stated about the Guatemalan residents:

"Jakelin and her father came to the United States seeking something that thousands have been seeking for years: An escape from the dangerous situation in their home country. This was their right under U.S. and international law."

The 7-year-old’s death became public on Thursday which was five days after she died from dehydration and cardiac arrest. After hearing about the child’s death former presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted an emotional response.


On Friday she stated:

"There are no words to capture the horror of a seven-year-old girl dying of dehydration in U.S. custody. What's happening at our borders is a humanitarian crisis."

On the same day as Clinton’s tweet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP officials defended their handling of the incident. They revealed that they’d faced a number of challenges including taking 90 minutes to get Jakelin medical attention after her father alerted agents that she was sick.


Cruz and his daughter were among a group of 163 migrants who were apprehended by four border patrol agents. A CBP official revealed that a single bus equipped to transport children from a remote part of the New Mexico border had to make two trips to take everyone.

Jakelin and her father had to wait four hours for the bus to return. Later on, the child had a 105.9-degree fever and had to be airlifted to a children's hospital in El Paso.


She then went into cardiac arrest, suffered brain swelling and liver failure before dying less than 24 hours later. Her family insisted that Garcia had taken care of his daughter by making sure she had eaten and was well hydrated.

Since December 9, Cruz has been staying at Annunciation House.

Jakelin isn’t the first migrant to die after being in border patrol custody. In May, Yazmin Juárez and her daughter, Mariee, 18-months-old, came into the US illegally while trying to flee the poverty in Guatemala.


Juárez and her daughter caught by CBP agents and held for three weeks at a detention center in Dilley, Texas, where the infant fell ill. After being released, the pair joined their family in New Jersey.

The toddler began coughing, vomiting, and battling a high fever. Juarez rushed her to an Edison, New Jersey hospital the day after landing in the state on March 25.

The child was held for respiratory failure. On May 10, after the little girl had stayed there for weeks, she suffered a fatal hemorrhage.

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