Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Activists, including childcare providers, parents and their children, protested against the Trump administration's immigration policy at the New York offices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Indefensible': 7-Year-Old Child's 'Horrific' Death in DHS Custody Prompts Outrage

"If this isn't the America we want to be, now is the time to be loud about it."

Julia Conley

The ACLU blamed a "lack of accountability and a culture of cruelty" at the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agency (CPB) for the death of a seven-year-old girl who was in immigration custody last week, calling for an in-depth investigation into the child's fate.

After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border with her father and 163 other asylum seekers, the child, whose full name was Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, was taken into CBP custody in New Mexico on December 6. She began having seizures hours later, and was taken to a hospital after she was found to have a 105.7 degree temperature. She died 24 hours later at the hospital of dehydration and shock, according to the Washington Post. The Post reported that it wasn't clear if Jakelin had been given food and water after being taken into custody.

The ACLU called the child's death "indefensible" and urged Americans to stand firmly against the Trump administration's inhumane immigration policy, which has included the separation of thousands of children from their parents and guardians as well as prolonged detentions for families.

As the news of Jakelin's death was reported, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provoked shock and outrage as it released a statement essentially making an example of the seven-year-old, noting that her fate should serve as a reminder that crossing the U.S. border is dangerous for refugees and suggesting that her father is to blame for her death.

"This is a disgusting statement dripping with cruelty, contempt, and inhumanity," MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes said. "Everyone who worked on it should be ashamed of themselves."

On Twitter, Reveal reporter Aura Bogado, who has extensively covered the effects of the U.S. government's immigration policies on children and families, criticized much of the corporate media's coverage of Jakelin's death and shared the conditions asylum seekers face in DHS custody:

"This young girl's death could very well have been prevented if the DHS implemented search and rescue activities along the border zone with the involvement of medical professionals," said Kathryn Hampton, a program officer for Physicians for Human Rights. "Decisions about the medical treatment needed for migrants and asylum seekers who are rescued in the desert should be made by a health professional with medical training, not by a law enforcement agent whose expertise and primary mission is focused on apprehension and arrest.

"Her death must serve as a reminder to the U.S. administration and to all those who serve within immigration and border enforcement agencies that the United States constitution states that no individual may be deprived of the right to life without due process of law. All U.S. policies and practices should aim to ensure protection of life, regardless of migratory status. At each of its borders, the U.S. government must uphold mandatory obligations to relieve imminent danger to lives and safety as a first priority."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Stop Line 5': Valve Turner Forces Shutdown of Enbridge Oil Pipeline in Michigan

"We are here to protect the water, land, and air that support all life, including our own. Line 5 poses an immediate threat to our lives and these actions are taken out of necessity and in self-defense."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Delay Is the New Denial': Study Confirms 99.9% of Scientists Agree on Climate

"It's pretty much case closed for any meaningful public conversation about the reality of human-caused climate change."

Brett Wilkins ·


Exposed: How Pfizer Exploits Secretive Vaccine Contracts to Strong-Arm Governments

"Pfizer has used its monopoly on a lifesaving vaccine to extract concessions from desperate governments," said the report's author, urging action from the Biden administration.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Toxic Presence in the Party': Ocasio-Cortez Joins Calls for Jay Jacobs to Resign

"India Walton is the Democratic nominee for mayor of Buffalo. No amount of racist misogyny from the old boys' club is going to change that."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Multimedia Report Details Unprecedented 'Permian Climate Bomb' in Texas

"If the Biden Administration wants to be serious about its promise to demonstrate U.S. climate leadership, it must first clean up its own backyard."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo