The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General will carry out an investigation into the death of a seven-year-old child who died while she was in custody this month. You can read the announcement here.
Seven year old Jackeline Caal and her father were traveling to the United States with a large group of migrants. They reached the US border on December 6 and the whole group turned themselves in to Customs and Border Protection; they were taken to a detention center. Early the next morning, Jackeline started vomiting and having seizures. She was rushed to the hospital, where she had a cardiac arrest. Doctors managed to revive her briefly, but Jackeline died soon afterward. Doctors said she likely died of dehydration and shock. Customs and Border said that Jackeline reportedly hadn’t had any food or water for days before she died.
Human rights groups said Jackeline’s death was the result of a “culture of cruelty” within Customs and Border Protection. They also slammed border agents for taking away bottles of water that some activists leave in the desert for migrants to find. It’s not clear whether Jackeline was given food and water when she was taken into CBP custody.
The Inspector General of Homeland Security said that it will investigate Jackeline’s death and provide a final report to the public. The announcement doesn’t refer Jackeline by name; it just says, “Today, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) announced that it will investigate the death of a 7-year-old migrant child who recently died after being taken into Border Patrol custody.”
The Inspector General’s Office Also Pledged to Do ‘Unannounced Inspections’of ICE Facilities
After Jackeline’s death was announced, there was a public outcry. Social media filled up with people asking how Customs and Border Patrol could have neglected the seven-year-old girl, especially since she was clearly in bad shape when she got to the facility.
The Inspector General of DHS said that it already has a program of “unannounced inspections” of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. The Inspector General’s office said that the unannounced inspections would continue and that the results would be public. But the office didn’t announce any new programs to improve the facilities or to increase staff at some of the overstrained sites.