Father of 7-year-old girl who died in border detention center disputes gov’t account

Father of 7-year-old girl who died in border detention center disputes gov’t account
Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia answers questions from the media after reading a statement from the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, pictured at left, during a press briefing at Casa Vides, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in downtown El Paso, Texas. Jakelin had received her first pair of shoes several weeks ago, when her father said they would set out together for the U.S., thousands of miles from her impoverished Guatemalan village. Instead she died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times via AP) (Rudy Gutierrez)

EL PASO, TX (CNN) - A congressional delegation will visit the Customs and Border Protection station in New Mexico on Tuesday where a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl was taken before she died in a hospital, according to a congressional aide.

The girl’s father is disputing some of the details of the girl’s death from the Department of Homeland Security.

Federal officials initially reported 7-year old Jakelin Caal Maquin spent days crossing desert terrain without food or water when she showed up with her father and a large group of migrant refugees at a desolate New Mexico border checkpoint.

The girl’s father disputes that account. He said Jakelin was in good health when they turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

Ruben Garcia runs Annunciation House, the El Paso shelter where the father has stayed since his daughter died.

Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia answers questions from the media after reading a statement from the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, pictured at left, during a press briefing at Casa Vides, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in downtown El Paso, Texas. Maquin had received her first pair of shoes several weeks ago, when her father said they would set out together for the U.S., thousands of miles from her impoverished Guatemalan village. Instead she died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times via AP)
Annunciation House director Ruben Garcia answers questions from the media after reading a statement from the family of Jakelin Caal Maquin, pictured at left, during a press briefing at Casa Vides, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in downtown El Paso, Texas. Maquin had received her first pair of shoes several weeks ago, when her father said they would set out together for the U.S., thousands of miles from her impoverished Guatemalan village. Instead she died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (Rudy Gutierrez/The El Paso Times via AP) (AP)

“What is very important to us is to make it very clear that the father told us that ‘my daughter was eating. My daughter was receiving water and liquids, and that she was fine,'” Garcia said.

According to DHS officials and the father, the young girl first started showing signs of distress and vomiting during a 90-minute bus ride to a Border Patrol station in Lordsburg, NM. The girl died about 27 hours after being taken into custody. The cause hasn’t been determined.

The father has told officials he has "no complaints" about how border patrol agents treated him and his daughter and that he believes everyone around them did everything possible to save the girl's life.

Domingo Caal Chub, 61, holds a smartphone displaying a photo of his granddaughter, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year-old girl died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Domingo Caal Chub, 61, holds a smartphone displaying a photo of his granddaughter, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year-old girl died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros) (AP)

The girl’s death has sparked intense criticism of the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

Critics argue migrants are being kept from entering through legal checkpoints to request asylum and pushed into remote dangerous areas.

“What happened with this child goes to show just how damaging these policies are for these families,” said Senaida Navar, an El Paso resident.

Elvira Choc, 59, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal's grandmother, rests her head on her hand in front of her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year old girl died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Elvira Choc, 59, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal's grandmother, rests her head on her hand in front of her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The 7-year old girl died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros) (AP)

Trump administration officials have criticized the father for putting his daughter in such a dangerous situation. Immigrant rights activists say the blame is unfair.

“Their lives are beyond impossible. None of us in the United States can imagine,” Garcia said.

The news of the girl’s death has left her family in a poor Guatemalan village devastated.

Claudia Maquin, 27, poses for a portrait at her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Claudia Maquin's daughter, 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Claudia Maquin, 27, poses for a portrait at her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Claudia Maquin's daughter, 7-year-old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros) (AP)

Jakelin had turned 7 just days before leaving with her father. The family says she was thrilled by the thought of seeing the U.S.

“I’m not going to speak that much because I can barely take it," said Domingo Caal, Jakelin’s grandfather. "It’s difficult for us. This happened because we are very much in need. The girl would jump in happiness that she would go to the United States, very happy and content. But she didn’t know. For us it’s very difficult.”

Eleven members of the House of Representatives will tour the facility on Tuesday.

Claudia Maquin, 27, sits on a wooden bed while she answers questions from journalists with her three children, Elvis Radamel Aquiles Caal Maquin, 5, left, Abdel Johnatan Domingo Caal Maquin, 9, center, Angela Surely Mariela Caal Maquin, 6 months, right, in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Claudia Maquin's daughter, 7-year old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Claudia Maquin, 27, sits on a wooden bed while she answers questions from journalists with her three children, Elvis Radamel Aquiles Caal Maquin, 5, left, Abdel Johnatan Domingo Caal Maquin, 9, center, Angela Surely Mariela Caal Maquin, 6 months, right, in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Claudia Maquin's daughter, 7-year old Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal, died in a Texas hospital, two days after being taken into custody by border patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros) (AP)

Incoming Hispanic Caucus chairman Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-TX, will lead the delegation.

Castro has called for a full investigation into the child’s death.

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