US border agents will not speak to lawmakers about girl’s death

18 Dec, 2018 9:38 am

NEW YORK (Reuters) – US Border Patrol agents who detained a 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl who later died in federal custody will not speak with US lawmakers investigating her death, the US Department of Homeland Security said on Monday, citing their union membership.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday plan to visit the New Mexico patrol station where Jakelin Caal and her father were taken on Dec. 7 to learn more about why she died the next day.

Caal’s death fuelled criticism of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies from Democrats and migrant advocates.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said it showed the dangers of her journey and the family’s decision to cross the border illegally.

U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat who leads the Hispanic Caucus, said lawmakers needed to see how Border Patrol stations were equipped to protect the health and safety of migrants. The lawmakers want to question agents who were present when Caal became ill.

DHS said the majority of agents involved in the girl’s detention were union members and, as such, their duties did not include speaking to members of Congress.

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