September 22, 2021

Milne News

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Father of migrant girl has “no complaints about how Border Patrol agents treated him and his daughter”

3 min read
Father of migrant girl has “no complaints about how Border Patrol agents treated him and his daughter”

The father of the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died after being detained by the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said he has “no complaints about how Border Patrol agents treated him and his daughter,” Guatemalan Consul Tekandi Paniagua told CNN on Saturday.

The consul said the father, Nery Gilberto Caal, told him agents did everything they possibly could to help his 7-year-old daughter, Jakelin Caal Maquin, after she became sick on the bus. The bus traveled from the Antelope Wells port of entry in New Mexico to a Border Patrol station in Lordsburg, New Mexico, around 90 minutes away.

The 7-year-old died December 8 in a hospital in El Paso, Texas, authorities said. The cause of death has not been determined.

Caal did not speak to the media Saturday, but in a statement issued by his lawyers, he said he was “grateful for the many first responders that tried to save young Jakelin’s life in New Mexico and Texas.”

The father’s lawyers has called for an investigation that “will assess this incident within nationally recognized standards for the arrest and custody of children. The family intends to assist in such an investigation into the cause and circumstances of Jakelin’s death.”

Fox News is reporting that the family is disputing the account given by U.S. officials who said the 7-year-old had not been given food or water for days.

On Friday, Border Patrol officials said the girl 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.

In a statement released by lawyers Saturday during a news conference in El Paso, Texas, at an immigrant shelter, 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. The family added that the girl 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.

Enrique Moreno and Elena Esparza, the two lawyers for the family have also criticized U.S. border authorities for asking Caal to sign a form written in English about the state of Jakelin Caal Maquin’s health not long after they arrived at the border, when she showed no problems.

Because he speaks no English only Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language used in Guatemala, the lawyers said: “It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand.”

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

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