Castro, Jayapal Introduce Bill on One-Year Anniversary of Jakelin Caal Maquin’s Death, Demand Answers from DHS and HHS
WASHINGTON--Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), today introduced the Jakelin Caal Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2019, a bill demanding that the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services report on and investigate all deaths that occur in government custody, such as the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin. Maquin died at 7 years old in CBP from dehydration and exhaustion on December 8, 2018. As of today, Congress has yet to receive any of the information that was requested on her death. Congress requires CBP to report the death of any individual in their custody within 24 hours including relevant details regarding the circumstances of the fatality. ICE is similarly required to report any in-custody death within 30 days. However, HHS has no such requirement, despite their care of thousands of migrant children every year.
“Jakelin’s death was a travesty; a dark stain on the moral fabric of this country. One year later, Congress has yet to receive any of the information we’ve requested surrounding her death, despite laws that mandate agencies to report on all deaths of migrant children in their custody. This lack of action not only dishonors Jakelin’s memory, but her entire family and all families that entrust our nation with their lives,” said Congressman Castro. “Enough is enough. We must demand integrity from our agencies and institutions, and this bill sounds the alarm to these ongoing injustices. DHS and HHS must hand over answers to all our outstanding questions swiftly and without delay.”
“Our inhumane and reprehensible detention system comes at a high moral cost. This bill incorporates critical pieces of my Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act to require federal agencies to investigate the death of everyone who dies in their custody and send a report to Congress. It will shine a light on the federal government’s deadly negligence and improve accountability,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s past time to restore our values as a country and create an immigration system that recognizes the fundamental value of every single human life.”
BACKGROUND: Jakelin Caal Maquin died at 7 years old due to dehydration and exhaustion while in CBP custody on December 8, 2018. The death, which raises significant questions about the conditions in CBP’s short-term holding facilities, was not reported to Congress as required by appropriations law and was instead first revealed by The Washington Post on December 13, 2018.
Congress requires CBP to report the death of any individual in CBP custody within 24 hours including relevant details regarding the circumstances of the fatality (House Report 115-239; Congressional Statement Accompanying the FY18 DHS Appropriations Bill). ICE is similarly required to report any in-custody death within 30 days, with a subsequent report due 60 days later unless additional time is necessary to redact personally identifiable information.
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