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    Migrant Child's Death Requires Separate Probe, Independent of DHS - US Lawyers

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    EL PASO (Sputnik) - The death of a seven-year-old migrant child in US custody warrants an independent probe that does not involve the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whose actions are being questioned, a lawyer representing the victim’s family, Enrique Moreno, said in a press conference.

    "These questions must be answered by an objective, thorough and independent investigation," Moreno said on Wednesday. "The investigation should not be the exclusive purview of the agencies whose actions and policies are being questioned. The investigator should not be the same entity as the investigated."

    The DHS Inspector General said last week it was investigating the circumstances around Caal's death.

    Attorney Lynn Coyle said their concern about the DHS OIG being the only agency investigating the incident is that in past investigations its only inquiry is if actions met the standards set out by CBP which have extremely low standards for medical screening.

    Coyle said they are asking for an investigation to include subject-matter experts in the health care area, particularly with minors, to review what happened in the initial CBP medical screening process.

    The attorneys said Caal and her father, Nery Caal, were held without access to water during their overnight stay at the Antelope Wells Port of Entry. Moreover, they said she was visibly ill before departing the facility which is contrary to CBP reports that indicate she became ill on the 94-mile trip to the Lordsburg Border Patrol Station from the remote operating base near the US border.

    READ MORE: Trump Defends Migrant Family Separation After Child's Death While in US Custody

    The attorneys pointed out that Caal should have been transported to the Lordsburg CBP facility on the first bus that transported unaccompanied migrant children. Caal should have been on the first bus even though she was accompanied by her father, the attorneys said citing the Flores Agreement. According to CBP, the bus transporting the unaccompanied migrant children departed around midnight and Caal and her father were transported five hours later.

    CBP's initial statements were false and reflect a lack of objectivity, Moreno said. The agency's actions undermine the transparency and accountability, hence the search for the truth remains, he added.

    The lawyers noted that Caal and her father traveled through Mexico by bus and walked across the US border for several hours, not days, seeking a CBP agent so they could seek asylum.

    Nery Caal is in the process of seeking asylum for credible fear, bur he has not been scheduled an appointment, the lawyers said.

    The lawyers also mentioned that the fact Caal's father within 48 hours of Jakelin's death was asked by CBP to sign statements in English, which offend "fundamental notions of fairness and decency." Nery Caal does not understand English. The attorneys said they do not know what he signed.

    Congressman Raul Ruiz, a licensed physician, told reporters on Tuesday that Caal died of sepsis, which is a bacterial infection in the blood. An autopsy report is still in the process of being completed to determine Caal's cause of death.

    CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in statement on Friday that border agents did everything in their power to provide medical care to Caal immediately. On Friday, the White House rejected responsibility for Caal's death and said it was a senseless and needless death that was 100 percent preventable.

    READ MORE: Dems to Probe Death of Guatemalan Migrant Girl in US Custody

    US Congressman Ben Ray Lujan told Sputnik on Tuesday that Democrats will initiate a Congressional investigation into Caal's death once they become the majority in the House of Representatives next year. The Guatemalan government has been notified immediately following the death, CBP said.

    Jakelin Caal Maquin, of Guatemala, died on December 8, two days after she was apprehended together with her father for illegal entry into the United States along with a group of 163 undocumented immigrants, according to Customs and Border Protection.

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    Tags:
    migrants, investigation, separate, death, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Jakelin Caal Maquin, United States
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