When news broke that Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, died while in the custody of US Border Patrol, there was plenty of outrage. A recently launched site is now encouraging us to use that anger to call for justice.
Jakelin and her father took the dangerous journey to the United States, and after about 11 hours in custody of the federal government, she died. She had a swollen brain and failed liver. While initial reports said she died of dehydration and exhaustion, her family has asked that people to refrain from stating the cause of death until a formal autopsy is completed.
As her family grieves, the government has placed blame on her father for taking the trip. In a statement, 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.”
However, others have criticized the agency, which is known for mistreating immigrants, and pointed to other deaths that have happened in government custody.
While the facts are disputed, several organizations – including Families Belong Together, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Mi Familia Vota, and dozens more – are seeking justice for Jakelin. On JusticeforJakelin.com, there is a form that allows visitors to contact their congress member and demand accountability for the young girl’s death. “7-year-old girl Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin died last week after traveling from Mexico into the United States,” the site reads. “This tragedy and other reported mistreatment and neglect of children and families within detention facilities is inhumane. The power of the Latinx community does not end at the ballot box, it continues with all forms of civic participation – it continues with standing up for our communities.”
To fill out the form, visit the site here.