Lawmakers tour Lordsburg facility where immigrant girl was held before she died
Members of Congress toured two facilities where a young immigrant girl was held before being medically evacuated to El Paso.
Jakelin Caal reportedly crossed the border illegally near the Antelope Wells Port of Entry on Dec. 6 with her father and 161 other immigrants, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. She later died in an El Paso hospital while in Border Patrol custody.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus told CBS4 the main issue they saw while visiting the sites was a lack of medical resources that they say could have potentially saved Jakelin’s life.
“We can only go by what we're being told by CBP,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said.
After requesting a meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, members of Congress visited both the Antelope Wells Port of Entry and the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Lordsburg, New Mexico.
They said the lack of medical resources at the port surprised them.
“I had assumed that more agents were trained as EMTs, for example,” Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar said.
Seven-year-old Jakelin was first apprehended near the port of entry on Dec. 6. According to the Border Patrol, there were no trained emergency medical technicians there that night. California Rep. Raul Ruiz, a licensed physician, said that, if there had been, that could have saved Jakelin's life.
“At that point, a medical personnel would have determined that this 7-year-old child and vulnerable girl should have been immediately transported to a higher level of care, like an emergency department, and had a full examination and they would have identified sepsis or early sepsis,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said agents could have requested that an air ambulance be sent to the port of entry, but cellphone service is a problem there for agents.
“If they’re transporting a person who is vulnerable and sick and you're in an area where you can't communicate to get air ambulance or medical transportation, then you're in trouble,” Ruiz said.
An air ambulance wasn’t called until Jakelin arrived at Lordsburg, according to the Border Patrol. Lordsburg is about a 1 1/2-hour drive from the port of entry where she was apprehended.
Congress members are calling on resource management to have both sufficient medical equipment and personnel.
“Why is there only one paramedic for this entire region? And we know, if there are simultaneous emergencies at two different holding areas, then one paramedic puts immigrants as well as their agents at risk,” Ruiz said.
The delegation will create a plan of action in the coming weeks to share with Congress while discussing the border budget.