SAN ANTONIO SECORTEZ, Guatemala – A shadow of sorrow hung over the hamlet of San Antonio Secortez as the Caal-Maquin family grieved the untimely death of their little girl Jakelin Caal-Maquin in the custody of the United States Border Patrol beginning of the month.
In the center of the tiny hamlet, home to around 80 people, a white plastic heart hung from a wooden pole nailed to the floor.
“She died on December 8,” the message on the cross read.
Outside Jakelin’s home, her mother, Claudia Maribel Maquin, 27, struggled to stop her tears as she took care of her 6-month-old daughter.
Jakelin’s brothers, Abdel Jonathan Domingo (9) and Elvis Radamel Aquiles (5), stood at a distance, their feet bare and dirty, their clothes old and torn.
The signs of poverty are visible all over the small hamlet, its thatched, makeshift homes and the families who live there.
At least a dozen of the families have relatives in the United States, and often migration to America is their only hope for survival.
Nery Caal, too, thought migrating to the US, working for the next four years, sending money back home and returning when he has saved enough would help pull out his family from poverty.
However, Jakelin and Nery Caal were among the 163 migrants, who were detained by the Border Patrol on Dec. 6, south of Lordsburg (New Mexico).
Around 6:25 am the next day, some eight hours after their detention, the young girl started having seizures and was taken to a hospital in El Paso in Texas by a helicopter.
When she arrived in the hospital, she was burning with fever and had suffered a cardiac arrest and although the doctors were able to revive her, she died a few hours later.
According to the Border Patrol, Jakelin died due to dehydration, the Washington Post newspaper had reported.
The girl had allegedly gone “several days without eating or drinking water,” they said, although her father did not confirm this.
Back in the hamlet, Jakelin’s grandfather Domingo Caal says while the painful death of his granddaughter has shaken them, yet he would not ask people to stop trying to migrate, as people migrated for various reasons, especially poverty.