February 6, 2023

Trump just smeared the heartbroken father of seven-year-old girl who died in ICE custody

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President Trump’s limitless cruelty reared its ugly head once again on Friday when he viciously smeared the father of young Jakelin Caal Maquin, the seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died of an easily curable bacterial infection while in U.S. custody.


In an appalling off-the-cuff statement, Trump put the guilt for her death squarely on her father, falsely accusing him of denying her water and of admitting blame for her death.

The reality is that a case of streptococcus bacteria caused organ failure in the young girl a day after being taken into Border Patrol custody. The father had signed a form indicating that the girl was in good health, but it is unclear if he understood what the form said, reports TIME magazine.

Her death raised a firestorm of outrage and criticism from immigrant advocacy groups, who charge that the Border Patrol and ICE are inadequately prepared to deal with immigrant families and are not providing adequate medical services.

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A staggering 22 immigrants have died in ICE’s custody over the past two years, many of them young. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has issued three reports criticizing the “poor treatment and spotty oversight in ICE facilities,” but little action has been taken to the rectify the issues that plague America’s immigrant concentration camps.

The president’s callous reaction to her death and the astonishing brutality that his administration has gleefully inflicted on thousands of immigrant families makes it clear that the inability of American immigration enforcement to properly care for the innocent migrants in their custody is by design; that their stay is purposefully made as abusive and dehumanizing as possible to both punish the immigrants and to feed his xenophobic narratives about an artificial crisis at the border.

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It also shows once again that fatherhood means nothing to Donald Trump, a sociopath who is notorious for his willingness to attack the grieving families of dead veterans when it suits him — and for the cold disinterest he shows his own children (at least the ones he’s not sexually attracted to).

The issues facing America’s overtaxed and inhumane immigration system began long before Donald Trump took office, but they were certainly made much worse when his team took over. We need to have a serious and substantial discussion in the upcoming primary about crafting a new, humane approach to immigration policy and a foreign policy that stops perpetuating the instability and poverty that provokes mass migration in the first place.

We owe it to little Jakelin and her father to make sure not one more person who comes to our nation seeking shelter finds death instead.

Colin Taylor

Managing Editor

Colin Taylor is the managing editor of the Washington Press. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice, equality, and universal health care in America.

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