Photo of Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection after waiting an 90 minutes before receiving emergency medical care
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has blamed the actions of a family of a seven-year-old girl who died coming across border into the U.S. for her death.
‘This family chose to cross illegally. What happened here was that they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them,’ said Nielsen.
‘It’s heart-wrenching, is what it is. And my heart goes out to the family. All of DHS. You know this is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey.
‘We’ll continue to look into the situation, but again, I cannot stress enough how dangerous this journey when migrants choose to come here illegally,’ she said.
A photograph was released on Friday of Jackeline Caal Maquin who died hours after she was arrested with her father at the border.
The Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol is refusing to take responsibility for her death.
The child died of dehydration two days after being arrested at the border. She stopped breathing on a US government bus and was not taken to hospital for more than an hour later.
Nielsen reiterated the government’s previous statements on the matter during an interview on Friday, saying it was ‘an example of the dangers of this journey.’
‘They came in such a large crowd it took our Border Patrol folks a couple times to get them all.’ She insisted that she and the other migrants were given ‘immediate care’ but did not go into further detail.
‘The initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues. There is no indication that it was a lack of attention. The questions were asked… there were plenty of opportunities in that period of time for her father to alert agents.
‘He had already been asked questions about her health, he knew we were interested in it,’ the CBP official said.
Asked by DailyMail.com if it was possible the girl was not thoroughly checked over due to the fact there were so few agents and so many migrants to process, the official denied that there was a lack of care.
‘Our agents are almost always outnumbered in the middle of the night on the border,’ they said.
There were no medical staff on the scene when they were first apprehended and the checks carried out boiled down to a visual observation and a list of questions, the officials said.
White House Deputy Press Secretary John Hogan Gidley described her death as ‘horrific’.
Jackeline Caal Maquin died on December 8th a day after being detained on the border with her father. Her death has sparked humanitarian concerns about the US’s treatment of illegal migrants in their custody. Above is an illustration of her final hours
The child was airlifted from the Lordsburg Border Patrol Station in New Mexico (shown) at 7.45am on December 7 but she had stopped breathing more than an hour earlier while being transported on a bus from the Antelope Wells Port of Entry where agents say she was checked over, showed no signs of illness and had access to food and water
GOVERNMENT TIMELINE OF GIRL’S DEATH
December 6th, 9.15pm: Jackeline is detained at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry
10pm: She is looked over by border agents who clear her and say she has no signs of ill health
December 7th, 4.30am: Jackeline is put on a bus with her father to be taken to the Lordsburg Patrol Station
5am: The child begins vomiting on the bus
Agents call ahead to the Lordsburg station and keep driving
6.30am: Jackeline’s father tells agents she has stopped breathing
6.45am: EMTs treat Jackeline at the border patrol station
7.45am: She is airlifted to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, Texas
December 8th: Jackeline Dies in the early morning after a CT scan revealed brain swelling, liver failure, dehydration, and septic shock
‘It’s a horrific, tragic situation. Obviously, our hearts go out to the family and to anyone who’s suffered any type of danger and peril that they see so often when they make that trek up from the southern border. It’s a horrific situation.
‘There’s no two ways about it and it’s — it’s a sad time, but it’s also senseless. It’s a needless death and it’s 100 percent preventable.
‘If we could just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking that would all come to an end.
‘And we hope Democrats join the president.’
When contacted by DailyMail.com on Friday, agents simply said that they were ‘unable to stop this tragedy.’
‘There wasn’t a whole lot for them to do. Really, in that part of the border, there is no faster means to get her to where she needs medical treatment,’ the official said.
‘As we have always said, traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous. Drug cartels, human smugglers and the elements pose deadly risks to anyone who comes across the border illegally.
‘Border Patrol always takes care of individuals in their custody and does everything in their power to keep them safe. Every year the Border Patrol saves hundreds of people who are overcome by the elements between our ports of entry.
‘Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring.
Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have been heading northward by the tens of thousands for the past three years with more than 280 having lost their lives, main through heat exhaustion
‘Once again, we are begging parents to not put themselves or their children at risk attempting to enter illegally. Please present yourselves at a port of entry and seek to enter legally and safely,’ a spokesman said.
Maquin’s death is one of more than 280 migrant deaths recorded by border officials in 2018 according to ABC News.
50 deaths this year were marked as ‘water-related’ – presumably people having drowned trying to cross sections of the border marked by rivers.
27 deaths were skeletal remains which were discovered by American authorities.
Heat exhaustion was the largest cause in the 281 deaths which were logged until September 30. A further 32 people have died since that time with four, so far, in December.
117 migrants were from Mexico. 116 people were ‘unknown.’ 19 people came from Guatemala, 14 from Honduras and eight from El Salvador.
The figures paint a grim picture for the caravans of migrants making their way to the U.S. border.
A group of migrants are arrested at the border in Tijuana on December 2 by US Border Patrol Agents.