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Heartbreaking photos of open casket funeral of Guatemalan 7-year-old who died in U.S. custody

The seven-year-old girl who died in the custody of U.S. border authorities earlier this month was bade farewell in an open-casket funeral on Christmas Day in her native Guatemala.

Heart-wrenching photos from the funeral show friends and family gathered around the casket of Jakelin Caal Maquin in her home village of San Antonio Secortez on Tuesday.

Her body arrived in Guatemala on Sunday.

The funeral took place on the same day it was announced that an eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant boy died shortly after midnight.

The boy died after being detained by U.S. border agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.

The body of Jakelin Caal, 7, is seen in a casket as friends and family attend her funeral in the Guatemalan village of San Antonio Secortez on Christmas Day, Tuesday

Locals gather around the gravesite as the casket is lowered into the ground on Tuesday

Locals gather around the gravesite as the casket is lowered into the ground on Tuesday

A man is seen above holding a picture of Jakelin during the funeral on Tuesday

A man is seen above holding a picture of Jakelin during the funeral on Tuesday

The funeral took place on the same day it was announced that an eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant boy died shortly after midnight. A boy is seen above standing next to Jakelin's coffin on Tuesday

The funeral took place on the same day it was announced that an eight-year-old Guatemalan migrant boy died shortly after midnight. A boy is seen above standing next to Jakelin’s coffin on Tuesday

The boy and his father were in CBP custody on Monday when a Border Patrol agent noticed the child showing signs of illness, CBP said. 

The father and son were taken to the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where the boy was diagnosed with a common cold and fever, and eventually released by hospital staff.

But later that evening, the boy began vomiting and was transferred back to the hospital. 

He died at the hospital shortly after midnight, CBP said, adding that the official cause of death is not known.

The father and son were not identified, and the agency said it will release more details ‘as available and appropriate.’ 

Guatemalan officials have been notified of the death, CBP said. The Guatemalan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tiny white coffin containing the remains of Jakelin was received on Sunday afternoon at Guatemala City’s international airport by representatives of the country’s Foreign Ministry. 

The tiny white coffin containing the remains of Jakelin was received on Sunday afternoon at Guatemala City's international airport by representatives of the country's Foreign Ministry. Friends and family carry the coffin in her home village of San Antonio Secortez on Tuesday

The tiny white coffin containing the remains of Jakelin was received on Sunday afternoon at Guatemala City’s international airport by representatives of the country’s Foreign Ministry. Friends and family carry the coffin in her home village of San Antonio Secortez on Tuesday

An indigenous Maya who had been hoping to begin a new life in the United States with her father, Jakelin came down with a fever while in the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities, and died in an El Paso hospital on December 8

An indigenous Maya who had been hoping to begin a new life in the United States with her father, Jakelin came down with a fever while in the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities, and died in an El Paso hospital on December 8

Her death fueled renewed criticism by opponents of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and gave a face to the many children who have accompanied parents on the long road north from Central America through Mexico to the border

Her death fueled renewed criticism by opponents of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and gave a face to the many children who have accompanied parents on the long road north from Central America through Mexico to the border

'This is not a merry Christmas, it’s a bad Christmas,' said her grandfather Domingo Caal, 61. Locals are seen above at the funeral on Tuesday

‘This is not a merry Christmas, it’s a bad Christmas,’ said her grandfather Domingo Caal, 61. Locals are seen above at the funeral on Tuesday

Villagers observe the funeral of Jakelin in San Antonio Secortez on Tuesday

Villagers observe the funeral of Jakelin in San Antonio Secortez on Tuesday

Claudia Maquin, the girl's mother, is seen at her daughter's funeral on Tuesday

Claudia Maquin, the girl’s mother, is seen at her daughter’s funeral on Tuesday

In a laminated white coffin, her small body was laid out clothed in a blue sweater and a red coverlet emblazoned with bears on Monday, after the casket's arrival in the village

In a laminated white coffin, her small body was laid out clothed in a blue sweater and a red coverlet emblazoned with bears on Monday, after the casket’s arrival in the village

The coffin was loaded into the back of a black hearse by workers in orange vests. 

Shortly before daybreak on Christmas Eve, Claudia Maquin wept silently when she was finally reunited with the still body of her daughter. 

An indigenous Maya who had been hoping to begin a new life in the United States with her father, Jakelin came down with a fever while in the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities, and died in an El Paso hospital on December 8.

Her death fueled renewed criticism by opponents of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and gave a face to the many children who have accompanied parents on the long road north from Central America through Mexico to the border.

Under a gray sky, friends and relatives filed in to Jakelin’s wake in the thatched hut of her grandfather. 

In a laminated white coffin, her small body was laid out clothed in a blue sweater and a red coverlet emblazoned with bears.

‘This is not a merry Christmas, it’s a bad Christmas,’ said her grandfather Domingo Caal, 61. 

‘To lose a child, a human being, is difficult,’ he added, as well-wishers and neighbors shuffled through the wooden house and its earthen floors.

Her mother Claudia wept but did not speak, looking down on the child for a few moments in the coffin.

Jakelin Caal Maquin is seen pictured above in this undated file photo taken before her death

Jakelin Caal Maquin is seen pictured above in this undated file photo taken before her death

Plagued by chronic gang violence and endemic poverty, Central America has sent out an endless stream of migrants desperate to reach the United States at almost any cost.

Jakelin’s father Nery remains in the United States waiting to see whether he will be allowed to stay. 

The two had handed themselves in to U.S. border agents in New Mexico on Dec. 6.

She fell ill soon afterwards and died after suffering cardiac arrest, brain swelling and liver failure, U.S. officials said.

In the early hours of the morning, Claudia had stood at a gasoline station some 12 miles from her impoverished mountain village of San Antonio Secortez, waiting to meet the white minibus that bore her daughter’s body.

During the slow, winding procession back home through the municipality of Raxruha, the driver honked the horn as it passed dwelling places. 

A few villagers came out to give Claudia and the grandfather money.

Struggling to make its way through the steep, rugged mountain roads in the gloom, the minibus briefly ground to a halt and had to be pushed onwards by helping hands.

White balloons with messages of love for the girl hung over the coffin. On top of the casket was a small framed photo of Jakelin.

To one side hung a yellow note in Spanish.

‘Domingo Caal and family thanks: the media, the vice-president, the embassies of Guatemala and the United States, the mayor of Raxruha and everyone in general who in some way or other has accompanied us in this irreparable loss.’

Her remains were driven hours into the countryside to be handed over to family members for a final goodbye.  

A man, thought to be a government official, approaches the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin after her remains were repatriated to Guatemala at La Aurora International Airport on Sunday 

A man, thought to be a government official, approaches the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin after her remains were repatriated to Guatemala at La Aurora International Airport on Sunday 

A man, thought to be a government official, identifies the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin. Domingo Caal, the girl's grandfather, told Associated Press that the family didn't have money to travel from their poor hamlet to Guatemala's capital

A man, thought to be a government official, identifies the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin. Domingo Caal, the girl’s grandfather, told Associated Press that the family didn’t have money to travel from their poor hamlet to Guatemala’s capital

The presumed government official takes special care in placing the casket into the coffin

The presumed government official takes special care in placing the casket into the coffin

Caal and her father, Nery Caal, were traveling with a group of 163 migrants who arrived at the New Mexico border earlier this month. 

After they were taken into custody December 6, the father told a U.S. agent that the girl was sick and vomiting.

Her death marked another turning point in the debate over the Trump administration’s hardline approach to immigration enforcement with many  questioning whether better medical care could have saved her.

A GoFundMe page authorized by the Guatemalan consulate has been set up to help Jakelin’s family. 

The funds will cover the family’s basic needs, including medical care for the girl’s three siblings and the construction of a bathroom and a kitchen in their home, said Priscilla Villareal, a community organizer in Texas who created the page.

This week the Department of Homeland Security released a more detailed timeline of the events which preceded her death. 

She was detained along with her father Nery at 9.15pm on December 6th as they crossed into the US in New Mexico illegally. 

At 10pm that night, Nery was questioned about their health and, according to Customs and Border Patrol, told agents that neither he nor his daughter had health problems. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say he did not understand when he was asked in Spanish if his daughter was in good health and answered yes because his native tongue is Mayan. 

Nery was questioned in Spanish and his answers were translated to English and marked onto a Form I-779. 

On Friday, officials repeatedly eschewed blame for Jakelin’s death by telling journalists about the form. 

Mortuary employees carry the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin to make the long journey to the remote village of San Antonio Secortez where her family lives 

Mortuary employees carry the body of Jakelin Caal Maquin to make the long journey to the remote village of San Antonio Secortez where her family lives 

Her remains were then driven hours into the countryside to be handed over to family members for a final goodbye in the village of San Antonio Secortez

Her remains were then driven hours into the countryside to be handed over to family members for a final goodbye in the village of San Antonio Secortez

The hearse makes the long drive to the remote village of San Antonio Secortez where the girl's family live 

The hearse makes the long drive to the remote village of San Antonio Secortez where the girl’s family live 

A large media contingent were present as the hearse carrying the girl's coffin made its way to her hometown where her family and mourners will have a prayer service 

A large media contingent were present as the hearse carrying the girl’s coffin made its way to her hometown where her family and mourners will have a prayer service 

Nery was questioned in Spanish and his answers were translated to English and marked onto a Form I-779. 

On Friday, officials repeatedly eschewed blame for Jakelin’s death by telling journalists about the form. 

But in light of the fact that Spanish was not, as they claimed, his first language, it remains unclear if Nery knew what he was saying when he told the agents that his daughter was healthy.   

It also remains unclear what he would have told them had he understood the questions fully.  

Jakelin's mother Claudia Maquin said of her death: 'Every time they ask me what happened to the girl, it hurts me again'

Jakelin’s mother Claudia Maquin said of her death: ‘Every time they ask me what happened to the girl, it hurts me again’

‘Jakelin and her father speak Q’eqchi’ and Spanish is their second language. Neither of them speaks English. 

‘Yet, CBP is relying on forms signed by her father which are in the English language. 

‘It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand,’ lawyers Enrique Moreno, Elena Esparza and Lynn Coyle, who represent Caal’s father, said in a joint statement.

He also fought the government’s initial claim that Jakelin had not eaten or drank water for ‘days’ before she died. 

‘Prior to going into CBP custody and contrary to the report that Jakelin ‘had not eaten or had any water for several days,’ Jakelin had not been crossing the desert for days.

‘Jakelin’s father took care of Jakelin – made sure she was fed and had sufficient water.  She and her father sought asylum from border patrol as soon as they crossed the border.

‘She had not suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border,’ the lawyers said.  

The child’s cause of death has not yet been determined and no information about her autopsy has been released. 

Last week, CBP officials spoke on a conference call along with officials from the Department of Homeland Security where they gave reasons including brain swelling, liver failure, septic shock and dehydration for her death.

Claudia Maquin, 27, shows a photo of her daughter on December 15

Claudia Maquin, 27, shows a photo of her daughter on December 15

Domingo Caal Chub, 61, (pictured), Nery's father, and the rest of the family are said to speak a Mayan dialect with both English and Spanish being their second languages

Domingo Caal Chub, 61, (pictured), Nery’s father, and the rest of the family are said to speak a Mayan dialect with both English and Spanish being their second languages

Nery is now staying at Anunciation House, a shelter for migrants in El Paso. It is not known if he will travel back to the village where his family lives to mourn the death of Jakelin. 

Guatemalan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marta Larra said the ministry had sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. State Department asking for it to monitor the case and determine the cause of death.

Domingo Caal said his son has a January 3 court date in the United States to determine his migratory status.

Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, told The Associates Press that he had spoken with the girl’s father who said he had no complaints about how they were treated.

Caal asked the Guatemalan consulate in Texas, which had reached out to him, if he could see his daughter one last time before her body was sent back to her homeland. 

Members of the Caal Maquin family and neighbors stand in front of Claudia Maquin's house in Raxruha, Guatemala

Members of the Caal Maquin family and neighbors stand in front of Claudia Maquin’s house in Raxruha, Guatemala

This is the home Jakelin lived in with her father, mother, grandfather and three siblings where they survived on $5-a-day

This is the home Jakelin lived in with her father, mother, grandfather and three siblings where they survived on $5-a-day

Dozens of women prepared tamales and beans to feed mourners when Jackelin's remains eventually arrive for a funeral service 

Dozens of women prepared tamales and beans to feed mourners when Jackelin’s remains eventually arrive for a funeral service 

That request prompted special arrangements at a private funeral home last Friday, when he said goodbye to Jakelin.

The family lives in a hut in San Antonio Secortez, a mountainous hamlet which has only 420 inhabitants, and they survive on $5-a-day which they earn through harvesting corn and beans. 

According to the family, Nery paid a smuggler to take him and Jakelin to the border. His father Domingo, who speaks Spanish like ‘most’ other men in the town, told The Associated Press that he borrowed money to pay for their journey and used their plot of land as a surety. 

‘He was desperate,’ he said. 

The family contradicted what his lawyers seemed to suggest by saying that they never intended to apply for asylum.  

Most of the men in the village know Spanish but Nery’s was ‘broken’, according to Guatemalan officials. 

Jakelin’s mother Claudia held back tears as she described her life in Mayan. Her grandfather, Domingo Caal Chub, 61, translated her remarks into Spanish.

‘Every time they ask me what happened to the girl, it hurts me again,’ she said. 

Border Patrol officials on Friday maintain that agents did everything they could to save the girl but that she had not had food or water for days. 

Jakelin’s family is asking for an ‘objective and thorough’ investigation to determine whether officials met standards for taking children into custody.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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