December 15, 2018


Hours before her collapse in U.S. custody, a dying migrant child's condition went unnoticed (Nick Miroff December 14, 2018, Washington Post)

Twenty-seven hours before she died at an El Paso children's hospital, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal walked across the U.S. border with her father and 161 other migrants outside Antelope Wells, N.M.

It was 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 6, and the small, remote U.S. border crossing was closed for the night. There were four Border Patrol agents on duty, and no medical staff.

The migrants skirted barriers and crossed into the United States. Like most Central American asylum seekers who have been arriving at the border in record numbers, they were not seeking to evade capture but to turn themselves in.

That night, as elsewhere when large groups of parents with children appear at remote border outposts, U.S. agents strained to accommodate the needs of those in their custody. The agents radioed the nearest Border Patrol station in Lordsburg, 90 minutes away, to request a bus, the only one available along that barren desert span of the New Mexico boot heel.

What unfolded over the next eight hours, as Jakelin's condition deteriorated but went unnoticed by agents and perhaps her father, is now the subject of an internal investigation at the Department of Homeland Security, and congressional Democrats are demanding a full accounting and meetings with Customs and Border Protection officials.

On Tuesday, three days after the child's death, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the Senate Judiciary Committee that his agency's Border Patrol stations and their rudimentary holding cells were ill-suited to handle so many families and children. More medical staff and social workers were needed to handle the demographic change, he said.

McAleenan did not mention the girl's death, which was disclosed by CBP only after The Washington Post inquired about it Thursday evening. A DHS official said Friday the agency will review its policy on reporting deaths of migrants in U.S. custody.

Posted by at December 15, 2018 10:05 AM