The Body of Jakelin Caal Maquín Is Back in Guatemala


The body of Jakelin Caal Maquín, the seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died of dehydration, fever, and septic shock in U.S. custody earlier this month, has been returned to her native country.

According to the Associated Press, a coffin containing Jakelin’s body arrived in Guatemala City on Sunday. Jakelin’s family members, who reside in the village of San Antonio Secortez, will receive it Monday morning for burial. They were unable to meet the body in Guatemala City, they said, because they could not afford to travel that far.

Jakelin died in El Paso, Texas, after US Border Patrol detained her and her father, Nery Caal, on December 6. Caal and Jakelin were attempting to cross the New Mexico border with a group of over 160 migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Jakelin’s death made headlines as evidence of the cruelty migrants seeking asylum face at the border, with US Border Patrol accused of delaying treatment for Jakelin, though the Trump administration—chiefly, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen—blamed Jakelin’s father for choosing to “cross illegally.”

“The government and Donald Trump are negating the case of my daughter,” Claudia Maquin, Jakelin’s mother, told Al Jazeera. “He is saying she didn’t get sick in custody. It was in their country and they are responsible for her death.”

The Associated Press reports that residents in Jakelin’s home village have been increasingly driven to try to cross the border due to declining crops and work, an ongoing crisis that will continue to drive migration, thanks in large part to climate change.

“Migrants need more attention and protection from the United States,” Domingo Caal, Jakelin’s grandfather, told Al Jazeera. “Every day, there are thousands and thousands of people migrating all over the world.”

Jakelin’s father has a January 3 court date to determine whether he will be granted asylum in the United States. His family has been trying to push the Trump administration to let him stay.

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