DHS watchdog to investigate death of seven-year-old Jakelin Maquin while in CBP custody
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has opened an investigation into the horrific death of Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin while in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Jakelin, just seven years old, died hours after being taken into custody with her dad at the southern border, reportedly from dehydration and shock.
“In addition to an investigation of the specific circumstances of the child’s death,” the statement reads, “DHS OIG will continue its ongoing program of unannounced inspections of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. The results of these inspections will also be reported publicly.”
The announcement came after House Democrats called on the OIG to immediately probe her death, the dire CBP holding areas where migrants are detained, and why members weren’t immediately informed that Jakelin had died under government watch. “We are also troubled by the fact that we learned of this incident from The Washington Post,” Congress members Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Pramila Jayapal, Joaquin Castro, and Lucille Roybal-Allard wrote, “rather than through congressional notification as required under Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations laws.”
A full investigation is needed, because according to Castro, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan “knew about Caal’s death—just past midnight on Dec. 8—in Border Patrol custody before McAleenan testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Talking Points Memo reported. “But McAleenan never mentioned Caal during his testimony, on Dec. 11.” McAleenan later claimed that he didn’t inform members because he was confirming the girl’s death with her mom in Guatemala, but that doesn’t explain why he didn’t just tell members privately.
Back in her village in Guatemala, Jakelin’s mom, Claudia, told the Associated Press (AP) that “every time they ask me what happened to the girl, it hurts me again.” The child, her mom said, had received her very first pair of shoes in order to make the arduous journey with her dad up north. “The 7-year-old was excited about the possibility of a new life in another country, relatives said Saturday. Maybe she would get her first toy, or learn to read and write.”
House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi has also assured that members of Congress will conduct their own investigation alongside the OIG. “We must honor the spark of divinity in every person,” she said. “We have a moral responsibility to ensure all children are treated with decency and compassion. As Homeland Security’s Inspector General opens an investigation into this innocent child’s death, the Congress will also investigate this horrific tragedy to ensure the safety and security of every child.”