As President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union, female lawmakers decided to make a statement. Dressed in white – a color associated with the suffragette movement – this group sent a strong message about the future of the nation. But several of them also made another important gesture – though it might have gone unnoticed by some. Pinned against their white jackets and shirts, several female representatives honored the memory of Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died while in custody of the US Border Patrol.
We are bringing Jakelin Caal into the room with us during the #SOTU.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) February 5, 2019
The image featured on the pin is the same one that circulated online after her death. About two months ago, news broke that the young girl died in US custody. She and her father turned themselves in to immigration officials on December 6 near Lordsburg, New Mexico. About eight hours later she began having seizures and received medical attention. Emergency responders reported she had a fever of 105.7 degrees, which CBP says is a result of her not haven eaten or drank water in a few days. The young girl was then transported to a children’s hospital in El Paso, where she went into cardiac arrest and was reportedly revived. But she died at the hospital less than 24 hours after arriving at the hospital.
With the government placing blame on her family for bringing her to the United States, many have called for justice. Several organizations – including Families Belong Together, Mi Familia Vota, and dozens more – started JusticeforJakelin.com to demand accountability.
On Tuesday, a few lawmakers – including Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar – wore the pin. Ahead of the SOTU, Tlaid tweeted, “We are bringing Jakelin Caal into the room with us during the #SOTU.” And with Trump using the address to once again vilify immigrant communities and call for a border wall, they demonstrated the ways the US government mistreats immigrants.