Following Death of 7-Year-Old, a Call to End Culture of Cruelty at the Border

December 14, 2018

Email: [email protected]
Juan Gastelum, 213-375-3149
Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279

Following Death of 7-Year-Old, a Call to End Culture of Cruelty at the Border

LOS ANGELES — Below is a statement by Nora Preciado, senior staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, following the tragic death of a 7-year-old girl in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. Preciado is co-counsel in Doe v. Nielsen, a class-action lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center, the American Immigration Council, the ACLU of Arizona, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Morrison & Foerster LLP, challenging deplorable conditions in Border Patrol holding facilities in the Tucson Sector.

“The death of 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin is a tragic reminder of a longstanding pattern of systemic cruelty and secrecy at CBP and its parent agency, DHS, and underscores the stark need for greater transparency and accountability at these agencies. As we mourn and demand justice for Jakelin and her loved ones, we must also take meaningful steps to prevent anything like this from happening again.

“Direct accounts over years from people in CBP custody and hard evidence obtained through litigation reveal a culture of utter disregard for human life at the agency. This toxic environment has resulted in civil and human rights violations, physical and psychological harm, and numerous preventable deaths.

“In June 2015, we sued CBP to demand humane conditions for those jailed in Border Patrol holding facilities known as hieleras. We demanded medical screenings, adequate food and water, and other basic necessities. The lawsuit continues, but we shouldn’t have to sue our government to force it to abide by our laws and treat people with dignity.

“Sadly, the culture of cruelty at CBP has only worsened under the Trump administration. By DHS’s own account, Jakelin and dozens of people apprehended by CBP at the same time were kept for hours in a ‘covered area’ before being transported to a Border Patrol station and before she received medical care. Overnight temperatures in the region can fall to below freezing this time of year.

“Our tax dollars have paid for this culture of abuse for far too long. We demand that Congress investigate the atrocities being committed under President Trump’s watch.”