News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Fri. Dec. 21, 2018: Last Christmas, little Jakelin Caal Maquin, was alive and well, celebrating the day I’m sure with her parents and siblings. This Christmas, she will only be a memory to those who knew her and a pain in the heart of her parents and siblings for every Christmas to come. Perhaps her mother and siblings in Guatemala will visit her grave and take solace in the fact that she is near.
But her dad, Nery Caal will be unable to, and conceivably spend the day haunted by memories of his beautiful little girl, the last image of her in a coffin in a funeral home and lots of doubts and ‘what ifs.’
For Donald Trump, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan and CBP U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla L. Provost, the day will undoubtedly be filled with love, surrounded by their children and grandchildren – healthy, happy and whole.
Little Jakelin will be nary a thought, just like she was hardly worth a mention when both McAleenan and Provost testified before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on December 11th and 12th, respectively – 3-4 days after the death of this 7-year-old.
Commisioner McAleenan in his 15-page testimony, spent most of it focused on giving the Committee a detailed insight into what the CBP does. As if they did not already know this!
Not a word was mentioned about Jakelin in all those remarks and nothing was mentioned of the deaths of immigrants this year either. Nothing also was mentioned of the thousands of kids – some 15,000, now in government custody across the country. These include more than 2,700 mostly young men between the ages of 13 and 17 from Central America, housed in tent cities in Tornillo, Texas, who will spend Christmas separated from family and everything they know and love.
Further, not a single mention was made to address the fact that the Office of Inspector General at Health and Human Services also identified “significant vulnerabilities,” from the contractor in Tornillo, Texas, who is not conducting FBI fingerprint background checks on its 2,000 staffers and lacking enough mental health clinicians for the swelling number of children. Or that taxpayers are paying an estimated $100 million per month to this private company.
The one mention of the plight of these immigrants was this comment by the Commissioner: “…the need for this assistance highlights the fact that the numbers of Central American families and children coming across our border represents a humanitarian and national security crisis. The resources we are devoting to the care and processing of these individuals significantly impacts our ability to carry out our law enforcement mission.”
Provost’s testimony was even shorter – just 5 pages – with not a single mention of Jakelin, the process of dealing with asylum seekers at the border, the current plight of these children or their families, or the Central American migrant crisis as a whole.
The decision of both to ignore the death of this young child smacks of an attempt to sweep it under the rug and hide from the facts of this case.
It is exactly why the Department of Homeland Security decided that they would put the blame on Mr. Caal, by claiming his daughter was malnourished or had not been drinking water before the two turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents. And why
The callousness and lack of humanity speaks to the actions of this entire administration – from the BOSS down. Come January, the Democratic Congress must begin the process of renewing accountability by demanding McAleenan and Provost explain accurately the timeline from Dec. 6th to Dec. 8th – when the Claas’ turned themselves in to apply for asylum to when little Jakelin died – so she can at least Rest in Peace.