As foreign-born people go through the United States’ broken immigration system, they’re often stripped of their dignity and rights. This is especially true if they end up in the custody of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) or US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On Thursday night, news broke that a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and exhaustion after CBP took her into custody last week. NBC News confirmed her name was Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin.
CBP reports that the young girl and her father turned themselves in to immigration officials on December 6 near Lordsburg, New Mexico. About eight hours later, she started 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. “However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported,” CBP said, according to the Washington Post.
So far the story of this young girl has been filtered through CBP reports, meaning we don’t know exactly what happened. What we do know is that people have died in custody of immigration officials in the past and that not enough is being done to protect them.
And while CBP sent its condolences to the family, it also shamed them. “As we have always said, traveling north illegally is extremely dangerous,” a DHS spokesperson said. “Drug cartels, human smugglers and the elements pose deadly risks to anyone who comes across the border illegally. Unfortunately, despite our efforts and the best efforts of the medical team treating the child, we were unable to stop this tragedy from occurring. Once again, we are begging parents to not put themselves or their children at risk attempting to enter illegally. Please present yourself at a port of entry and seek to enter legally and safely.”
The comment completely tries to shift the blame to immigrant families and other factors along the way. However, the US is complicit in not only what happens to immigrants on their way to the United States, but also doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to treating this community with dignity.