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"The family chose to cross illegally": The Trump administration isn't taking responsibility for a migrant child's death

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley called the death a “horrific, tragic situation” — which wasn’t the administration’s fault.

by Miranda Levingston
Dec 14 2018, 10:43pm

The Trump administration is using the death of a 7-year-old migrant girl in Border Patrol custody as a chance to tout the benefits of stricter immigration laws.

Around 24 hours after the girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, and her father turned themselves in to Border Patrol in New Mexico, she was dead. The father told the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) she hadn’t eaten or drunk any water in days and had started vomiting and seizing when they boarded a bus to an immigration facility in Texas. She was later diagnosed with kidney failure and died due to exhaustion, dehydration, and shock.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley called the death a “horrific, tragic situation” — which wasn’t the administration’s fault.

"Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country?“ Gidley said outside the White House, according to Politico. “No."

In the same breath, Gidley advocated for stricter immigration laws and undercut Democrats.

“It's a needless death, and it's 100 percent preventable,” Gidley said. “If we could just come together and pass some commonsense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking — that would all come to an end. And we hope Democrats join the president."

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also deflected her department’s role in Jakelin’s death. She said DHS would look into the incident but that Border Patrol gave the family “immediate care.” Nielsen also gave a warning to migrants.

“It’s heartwrenching, is what it is,” Nielsen said in an interview on Fox News' “Fox & Friends.” “My heart goes out to the family and all of DHS. You know, this is just a very sad example of the dangers of this journey. This family chose to cross illegally.”

Cover image: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks in front of the border wall separating Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)