The codified cruelty of the Trump administration has battered the Mexican border as the president’s dehumanizing rhetoric gives federal agents carte blanche to misuse and abuse their power, inflicting indefensible damage on migrants in the process.
The recent tragic death of 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant Jakelin Caal Maquin while in U.S. government custody has distilled the crisis down to its purest, most heartbreaking form and raised questions about how undocumented immigrants are being treated. Hospital officials believe she died of sepsis shock and while Border Patrol agents are said to have inspected the migrants for health risks, for some reason Caal Maquin’s condition wasn’t properly identified.
While it’s still not entirely clear what chain of events lead to the child’s death, the story has understandably drawn a spotlight onto the inhumane practices along the Mexican border, including Border Patrol agents intentionally destroying caches of water placed in the desert to help migrants survive. There is an undeniable culture of apathy and bigotry that flows from the Oval Office downward.
#Jakelin, the 7-year-old who just died in US Border Control custody, was one of 1000's who will needlessly die trying to reach the US.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) December 17, 2018
Now, Buzzfeed News is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security has told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that its members will not be allowed to conduct interviews with he Customs and Border Protection agents involved in Caal’s detainment and subsequent death. The lawmakers are slated to the visit the border station where the child was initially treated.
Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX), a member of the caucus, stated that Congress will call the agents to testify if DHS refuses to let lawmakers discuss the incident with them.
For its part, DHS is hiding behind its “review process” as an excuse to block the interviews.
“While DHS respects the oversight role of Congress, it is important to allow the review process [to} occur unimpeded by politics,” DHS spokesperson Katie Waldman said.
The defensive posturing from DHS comes in the wake of Caal’s father Nery Gilberto Caal insisting that despite what the Trump administration has contended, his daughter had not been deprived for food and water before government agents detained them.
“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,” Caal’s lawyer said in a statement.
Caal’s account of events complicates the administration’s transparent attempt to continue characterizing migrant deaths as the natural result of irresponsible individuals crossing inhospitable terrain. They want to blame the victims so that they continue to pursue their brutal, racist policies.
Hopefully, Democrats in Congress follow through on Rep. Cruz’s promise. This innocent girl deserves justice, and in order for that to happen the American people need to know why she died and who, if anyone, is responsible.