Caal, through his lawyers, thanked first responders in New Mexico and Texas for trying to save his daughter’s life but asked that the public refrain from speculating until an official autopsy report is issued.
“Premature and inaccurate statements undermine the integrity of the investigation,” said the statement.
Caal was able to view Jakelin’s body at a local funeral home Friday and said goodbye before her body was flown back to Guatemala, where her family will bury her, Garcia said.
Jakelin’s death has generated an uproar locally and nationwide, with immigrant advocates and members of Congress demanding answers. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, joined a call for “a full investigation.”
There were also criticism about why the CBP commissioner, Kevin McAleenan, did not mention Jakelin’s death when he testified to the senate judiciary committee on Tuesday, days after her death.
“It’s a very serious thing for someone to die in [Customs and Border Protection] custody,” O’Rourke said.
On Saturday, O’Rourke led a five-member congressional delegation of Democrats to Tornillo to tour tent cities where children, mostly from Central America, remain in U.S. custody.
The congressional delegation called for hearings next year on conditions there, reiterating that the Trump administration must shut down the facility.
The goal of the visit, said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, was to “shine the light on this child prison … This is part of the Trump administration to inflict trauma on children as part of a political strategy.”
The tent city is in Tornillo, about 45 minutes southeast of El Paso. It opened on Father’s Day weekend when O’Rourke led a march to Tornillo, catapulting him into the imagination of voters nationwide wide. Yet, for children in Tornillo, not much has changed, other than locals planning Christmas caroling outside the facilities next week. The number of youth still house there rose from 360 to more than 2,700 mostly young men between the ages of 13 and 17. In November, the Office of Inspector General at Health and Human Services also identified “significant vulnerabilities,” from the contractor, BCFS, not conducting FBI fingerprint background checks on its 2,000 staffers and lacking enough mental health clinicians for the swelling number of children.
Moreover, taxpayers are paying an estimated $100 million per month to the private company.
“It’s a great deal for the contractor, a terrible deal for the kids here and an awful deal for taxpayers,” O’Rourke said
Members of the delegation said the privately-owned facility did not allow them to talk to detained youths because “we were told we shouldn’t interrupt their schedules,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “There’s probably a word for that. It’s called B.S.”
Nationwide, the number of immigrant children in government custody has reached almost 15,000, putting a network of federally contracted shelters across the country near capacity.
Both the youngsters and the 7-year-old are bound by a commonality: They were trying to legally seek asylum against giant obstacles, said Garcia of Annunciation House. He noted that the “intention of the federal government is to stop people from exercising their rights and that is immensely disconcerting” and leading to deadly consequences.
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