The family of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who tragically died while in U.S. Border Patrol custody earlier this month is disputing the narrative surrounding the tragedy in the mainstream media.
What does the family say?
The mainstream media's dominant narrative surrounding the young girl's untimely death places blame for the tragedy at the feet of U.S. Border Patrol and immigration officials, who are routinely painted in a negative light since Donald Trump became president.
In a statement, lawyers representing the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin dispute allegations that she had gone without food and water for several days, in addition to the charge that she had been traveling with her 29-year-old father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, in the Mexico desert for days before being apprehended by U.S. immigration authorities.
In fact, Guatemalan Consul Tekandi Paniagua told CNN Saturday the young girl's father has "no complaints about how Border Patrol agents treated him and his daughter." Border Agents did everything in their power to help his daughter, he said, during a 90-minute bus ride to a Border Patrol station in New Mexico. It was on that trip that Jakelin became suddenly ill.
While Caal did not speak to media directly — he primarily speaks an indigenous Guatemalan, in addition to Spanish — his lawyers said he is "grateful for the many first responders that tried to save young Jakelin's life in New Mexico and Texas."
Still, the family seeks an investigation that "will assess this incident within nationally recognized standards for the arrest and custody of children. The family intends to assist in such an investigation into the cause and circumstances of Jakelin's death," the lawyers said, according to CNN.
When apprehended by U.S. authorities, Caal signed a form indicating his daughter was in good health. However, the form was in English — a language Caal neither reads nor writes — an issue his lawyers have taken exception with.
"It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand," the lawyers said in a statement.
Jakelin died on Dec. 8 in a Texas hospital, two days after she and her father were apprehended by immigration authorities. A cause of death has not yet been released.