December 18, 2018

Members of Congress: Systemic Failures Contributed to Jakelin Caal’s Death

LORDSBURG, NEW MEXICO—Today, the Chairman Elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Joaquin Castro (TX-20) led a delegation to Antelope Wells Port of Entry and Lordsburg Border Patrol Station to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin in U.S. CBP custody. Following their investigation of Jakelin’s journey, the Members briefed the press on how these stations are equipped to protect the health and safety of those seeking refuge at our borders:

Highlights from today’s press conference:

Chairman Elect Joaquin Castro (TX-20) Beginning at 2:02: “There were other disturbing facts like the fact that during the 94 mile bus ride, where she started to present serious symptoms of medical and bodily failure, there was nobody on board that could offer any kind of medical help to her. And no medically trained personnel. It’s systemic failures like that, that we’ve had a chance to uncover today, and also will have an opportunity to recommend policy changes to correct those.”

Assistant Speaker Elect Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) Beginning at 4:42: “No running water, no area to bathe, no water to cook. At Antelope Wells, not just for the undocumented immigrants—these asylum seekers—but also for the agents. We found out that the food provided both a Antelope Wells and here in Lordsburg to the asylum seekers is granola bars, small juice boxes, and frozen burritos. And what I would describe as inhumane holding cells where we saw children with adults, and overcrowded facilities with a shared toilet. Completely open. At Antelope Wells, two porta potties, not just for the agents, but for the hundreds of undocumented immigrants and for asylum seekers that are coming in as well.

“What’s apparently clear is that there needs to be an independent investigation, and when I asked the Commissioner if he would support a congressional investigation, his response was he would welcome it if necessary. Well, it’s abundantly clear after today, that it is absolutely necessary.”

 

Congressman Al Green (TX-09) Beginning at 6:18: “What I saw in this facility is unbelievable and unconscionable. The [ASPCA] would not allow animals to be treated the way human beings are being treated in this facility. There are two sets of victims in this facility. The women and children who are here being processed, and the officers who are having to process them. They are both victims because to a certain extent these officers are doing what they are told, following rules, regulations and orders, but it has caused them to be put in a position where they are hardening.

“To tolerate what I have seen is unthinkable. We as members of Congress have got to do more to make sure that this kind of facility is either shut down or we have got to do more to make it a lot better than it is.”

Congressman Raul Ruiz (CA-36) Beginning at 11:26: “What I found here is that there are some really serious systemic obstacles, and problems, and failures in the system to provide the care that a child so lovingly deserves when they are in our custody.

“If it is true that the child had not eaten, and was vomiting for several days, the child does not look normal when they present to the emergency department or anywhere. And a cursory physical exam to determine if the pulse is high or the fever, if she has a fever. Anybody who is dehydrated it not happy, is not excited, they look really sick. At that point, perhaps an aeromedical evacuation could have been called and she could have still been alive.”

Congresswoman-Elect Veronica Escobar (TX-16) Beginning at 18:53: “To see more children, more families, who are put in concrete rooms, in conditions that many of us believe are in inhumane, and that are not reflective of the America that all of us know we can and should be.

“It’s no longer necessarily simply economic migration that we’re seeing. But we’re seeing asylum seekers who are running for their lives, who are trying to save the lives of their families.  These are not criminals, these are not people trying to do us harm. The families that we have seen today are people just like you and I. People who are looking for a better life. People who are looking for hope, and who unfortunately end up finding almost as much misery when they cross our borders as the misery that they fled.”

Congressman Lou Correa (CA-46) Beginning at 24:58: “We in Washington have to do our job. And our job is to take care of this country, and to make sure that we take care of those asylum seekers…When I do go back to Washington, I am going to go and do my job. I sit on Homeland security and I am going to make sure we have hearings on this issue.”

Congresswoman-Elect Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) Beginning at 25:47: “This first, beyond everything, is a human tragedy. Today is International Migrant Day. Think about that. And here we are talking about a young angel, seven-years-old, who died here in the process of just trying to come here for a better life. Think about the father who had to carry her into that small room, Dr. Ruiz—so small I think my closet is probably larger—put on a hard table where now sits two microwaves. Not a bed. And that’s where she was determined to be so ill. But also think about the mother who they had to find, and give her word that her daughter has died .The daughter that she thought she was waving goodbye to, to come to a better world here in America. It’s a human tragedy, but it’s one of our own making.”

Congressman-Elect Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04) Beginning at 28:16: “But instead of finding answers, we leave here today asking more questions. Especially the question of why the government agency responsible for caring for people in their custody has failed to adapt, to innovate, to be flexible, and to respond to the basic needs of little children, of families, mothers and fathers in their custody. What we saw today was clearly an example of the lack of competency and the lack of resource investment to be able to respond adequately to this humanitarian crisis.”

You can watch a full video of the press conference here.

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Press Contact

Miguel R. Salazar (CHC) (202) 536-9418

Jamie Geller (Castro) (202) 809-2813