Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Congressman Castro wants top border official to resign

Democratic Rep. Joaquín Castro issued a call for the head of Customs and Border Protection to step down for failing to speedily report the death of a 7-year-old girl while in border officials’ custody.

Castro made the demand Tuesday after he and 11 other members of Congress visited border facilities to find out more about the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin. “Based on my conversations with him, based on his conduct I believe he should step down,” Castro said of Commissioner Kevin McAleenan at a news conference outside the Lordsburg station.

Castro has previously criticized McAleenan for failing to advise Congress of Jakelin’s death within the 24 hours required by law or mentioning it when he testified before Congress last week. McAleenan has said he didn’t want to politicize her death.

In addition, Castro and the other congressional members criticized the condition of the facilities they toured, saying they jeopardized the health of immigrants and CBP agents and officers working there. Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., an emergency care physician, said the visit and conversations with supervisors “revealed” that Jacklin suffered seizures before she eventually became unresponsive.

Ruiz also criticized the available medical equipment and training of border officers to handle medical emergencies. He said her vital signs should have been taken when her father first reported she was ill at Antelope Wells; she could have been evacuated then “and she could have still been alive.”

McAleenan said that unlike the caravans, the recent groups say they were able to journey to the border in four- or five-days aboard buses managed by a smuggling organization. But Texas Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, countered that CBP agents have been stationing themselves at the middle of the ports of entry bridges where Mexico and the United States meet; “A challenge we are facing as a country is being exacerbated and being made far worse by this administration,” she said.

NBC NEWS