Speaking before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen again found a way to blame the death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died last week of dehydration and exhaustion while in the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on everyone except the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies.
Instead, Nielsen reserved her concern for the Border Patrol agents involved in Maquin’s case, invoking Maquin’s death as a result of what Nielsen called a “chain of human misery” at the border.
Nielsen had already played the blame game last week, pointing a finger at Maquin’s father and family because they “chose to cross illegally,” as opposed to the the Customs and Border Protection agents who failed to immediately provide the girl medical attention prior to her death while in CBP custody. And in her testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee, Nielsen doubled down on blaming Maquin’s family—and the hundreds of other families attempting to flee violence and ask for asylum in the U.S.—by using Maquin and her death to spew even more lies about our fake immigration “crisis”:
We face a crisis at our border. A real, serious, and sustained crisis. We have tens of thousands of illegal aliens arriving at our doorstep every month. We have drugs, criminals, and violence spilling into our country every week. And we have smugglers and traffickers who profit from human misery every single day by exploiting people who are seeking a better life, deceiving them about our laws, and fueling everything from sexual slavery, to the smuggling of illicit goods. This chain of human misery is no more evident than with the tragic death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin.
Adding insult to injury, Nielsen waxed poetic about how much the agent involved in Maquin’s death and the entirety of the Department of Homeland Security had mourned the girl’s death, and said that Maquin’s death “has deeply affected the border agents involved in her case.” Nielsen also said that her “heart goes out to [Maquin’s] family and loved ones,” after blaming her family—twice now—for her death.
The DHS’s inspector general is currently investigating Maquin’s death, but several Democratic lawmakers, along with the lawyers of Maquin’s family, have called for an independent investigation into the tragedy. While the department says the family “had access to food, water and restrooms” during the first eight hours they were in custody, Caal’s father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, said neither of them were given water. (Some context: Earlier this year, video surfaced of Border Patrol agents dumping water jugs left for migrants crossing the border. )
Once again, Nielsen is trying to pin the child’s death on her family, using Maquin’s story as a sick warning to other families who simply want a chance at a better life. Unless she’s acknowledging and apologizing for the role that she and the entire Trump administration played in the death of Jakelin Caal, Nielsen should probably keep this child’s name out of her mouth.