STATEMENT: A Year After Jakelin Caal’s Death in CBP Custody, Still No Accountability for This Tragic Event

Washington, D.C. — This weekend marks one year since the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody. The one-year anniversary brings into focus the total absence of transparency and accountability surrounding Jakelin’s death.

Neither the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General nor the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility have released reports on the findings of the investigations that they conducted. Moreover, since the Center for American Progress requested records from DHS and CBP under the Freedom of Information Act in January to better understand the circumstances that led to Jakelin’s death—and the death just two weeks later of 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo—no records have been produced.

And just yesterday, ProPublica released video footage of the death of 16-year-old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez, who died in CBP custody and was discovered only hours later by his cellmate. This contradicts CBP’s account of the incident, which attests to wellness checks that appear not to have been performed in the hours after the child collapsed in his cell.

Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at CAP, issued the following statement:

Jakelin’s death resulted from the cruel and inhumane policies applied daily along our southern border and a culture that often treats people—and frequently people of color—as disposable, unworthy of adequate care and attention. Although Jakelin was the first child to die in CBP custody in more than a decade, additional children have died in the year since, often of fatal neglect to entirely preventable diseases. This is cruel and illegal. Our country deserves an immigration system that honors the rule of law—a more fair, humane, and workable system of rules that will prevent this from ever happening again. For Jakelin, Felipe, Carlos, and so many others, that begins with transparency and accountability today.

To see more examples of how the rule of law is being undermined by the current administration and how to move toward a system that meets the realistic wants and needs of the country, please see “Reframing the Immigration Debate” and sign up for the weekly newsletter.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Claudia Montecinos at or 202-481-8145.