Monday, June 17, 2019

GOP House members reprimand racist Steve King – while silent on systemic child abuse by border patrol

Regardless of immigration status or increased agency authority – child abuse remains a federal felony.

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Right now, GOP House members are congratulating themselves as they voted with the Democratic majority to pass a resolution ‘disapproving’ of Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King’s most recent racist and anti-immigrant tirades. Majority Whip, Rep. James Clyburn, D-SC, introduced the resolution, which reads: “the House of Representatives once again rejects White nationalism and White supremacy as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”

Earlier this week, GOP House leaders stripped King of his committee assignments, and Iowa Senators Joni Ernst-R and Chuck Grassley-R demanded that King resign his House seat.

All of this pseudo-ethical hand-wringing sounds very sincere, yet where were these moral ‘icons’ when a little Latina girl died while in Border Patrol custody? This baby died while under the care of CBP – for no other reason than being undocumented – and Latina.

Say her name…

Her name was Jakelin Caal Maquin and she was an undocumented child migrant from Guatemala. She was 7-years-old when she died – on December 8, 2018 – 17 days before Christmas.

The cause of her death was attributed to food deprivation and severe dehydration, followed by sepsis. This is a particularly painful and miserable way to die. During the process, extreme nausea and fatigue set in, along with uncontrollable diarrhea and convulsions. Dehydration often renders the body too weak to fight any infection. It is at this time that sepsis sets in – and all major organs shut down. This scenario also represents the alternative method used by the Nazi war machine to murder innocent people – including children – when they didn’t feel like paying for the cost of poison gas – or bullets.

Contacting National GOP Leader Senator Roy Blunt’s D.C. office…

I knew that this was a case of unquestionable child abuse, so I contacted my U.S. Senator to challenge his habitual silence on Trump’s xenophobic and cruel policies. I was armed with facts documenting a historic pattern of criminal abuse and subsequent cover-ups coming from the U.S. Border Patrol. My research into the accepted practices of the Border Patrol, post-911 revealed systemic abuse of migrants – including infants and young children. The human rights group known as No More Deaths or No Mas Muertes commissioned a 70+ page report documenting these abuses, including 4,130 interviews from 12,895 migrants, including 268 children aged 12 and under.

The report, “Culture of Cruelty” documented various abuses that occurred from 2008-2011, among which was routine food and water deprivation resulting in severe dehydration – including among young children. Some 863 people reported that they were denied access to water, and 1,402 claimed insufficient access.

The report also cited that children were more frequently denied water than adults.

Many of these people were already diagnosed with moderate to severe dehydration. It was also reported that Border Patrol officers denied food to 2,981 persons. Insufficient or spoiled food was claimed to have been given to 11,384 migrants. It was estimated that only 20% of detained migrants in custody for more than two days received an actual meal. The statistics for emergency medical care are just as grim. Of some 433 reported cases of emergency medical need, only 59 persons received any modicum of emergency care – while 86% of these people were deported without “necessary medical treatment.”

Regardless of immigration status or increased agency authority – child abuse remains a federal felony. This report produced sufficient evidence to contact U.S. Senator Roy Blunt who is also a member of the National GOP Leadership Team. In fact, Blunt recently rose to number 4, in the GOP Senate leadership hierarchy.

I phoned his DC office, both as a journalist and a constituent. My question to a staffer named ‘Andrew’ was simple. (It should be noted that the staffer in question refused to give his full name or job title. For the record, I did give my name and reason for calling).

Here is my question regarding a hypothetical situation.

“If a child from a White, Christian family residing in an affluent St. Louis suburb – such as Ladue, Missouri, (family home to Bucky Bush), had been deprived of food and water to the point that the child perished from severe dehydration and subsequent sepsis – WOULD THAT CONSTITUTE CHILD ABUSE?”

There was an eerie silence on the phone for a few moments as the staffer attempted to collect himself. The answer I received was consumed with equal portions of politically pragmatic cowardice and moral bankruptcy. Staffer ‘Andrew’ coldly responded;

“I can’t answer that question as I am not an attorney or a legal scholar.”

I pressed ‘Andrew’ further by admitting that the question was an ethical trap, clearly establishing a parallel between this hypothetical affluent white child – and the plight of migrant children of color – in CBP custody. Again, ‘Andrew’ repeated the same disclaimer – that he wasn’t an attorney or legal scholar – and subsequently couldn’t begin to answer this question. After some five minutes of wrangling and yelling on my part – I thanked ‘Andrew,’ as he had answered my question – by his very evasion.

What caused sepsis in Jakelin – or any other child…

Since Jakelin died from total organ failure, triggered by sepsis – a discussion of this condition in children seemed necessary. Sepsis is a condition where the body attacks itself in an attempt, to fight infection. It is hastened when even a minor infection such as a cold occurs in patients already weakened by severe starvation and dehydration. When water is contaminated by the presence of fecal material or other contaminants – sepsis proves deadly. These conditions are preventable when patients are provided adequate food, potable or safe drinking water, and regular access to toilets – along with toilet paper, soap and water. Children are particularly vulnerable.

Sepsis in children can begin neonatally, but also can be caused by infections from untreated wounds, viral infections, and general progressive infections by non-viral causes that are further exacerbated by filthy conditions, such as those reported by witnesses at the detention camps.

The next question dealt with any historic abuses by CBP that were consistent with recent reports. Was Jakelin’s murder an anomaly – or part of a systemic pattern of abuse? The evidence pointed to CBP as an agency out of control, historically lacking any meaningful oversight. CBP was looking very much like a – “Culture of Cruelty”.

…CBP has long history of human rights violations – including during the Obama administration…

Reports have filtered out regarding the refusal of Border Patrol, ICE and private contractors, to provide access to clean, potable drinking water, toilet facilities and soap needed for hand washing.

Migrants imprisoned in CBP facilities have also claimed that necessary medications they had in their possession for various life-threatening health conditions such as HIV, diabetes, hypertension and convulsive disorders were appropriated by CBP officers and private for-profit contractors.

Quinones Flores, a named claimant in a 2013 lawsuit against CBP listed the following unsanitary conditions:

*detainees were denied access to appropriate toilet facilities, and were forced to use a toilet in plain sight of the guards,

*detainees were denied adequate access to hygienic products such as toilet paper and soap for hand washing,

*detainees were forced to drink water from a dirty sink with their hands as no cups were available – even after using the toilet,

*CBP agents never cleaned the toilet facilities resulting in an open pile of used toilet paper and sanitary napkins. To quote the report; “Used toilet paper and sanitary napkins accumulated in a pile…and a putrid stench thus enveloped the cell.”

Center for Human Rights and Law interviewed migrants in compliance with legal settlement in Flores case…

Volunteers from the Center for Human Rights and Law conducted some 200 interviews with migrants held at CBP facilities. The volunteers were part of a watchdog provision intended to monitor the safety of migrant children in CBP custody – as mandated by the court settlement in the Flores case. Lead counsel, Peter Schey explained that volunteer attorneys for the plaintiffs file motions to the court when they discover evidence that the government has breached the Flores decision.

What they found further confirmed the earlier conclusions of the No More Deaths/Culture of Cruelty report. The outstanding complaints included the following recurrent issues:

A 17-year-old migrant name Braylin described the filthy and unsanitary conditions inflicted on adults and children while in CBP custody. Braylin explained that;

“There is a sign in the bathroom that says we can drink the water from faucets but we must use our hands – we are not given any cups. But we cannot wash our hands with soap.”

Elsa F. migrated from Guatemala with her 2-year-old. They were held at a Tucson CBP facility. She relayed that; “There is water available all day in our room but there is only one paper cup.”

Lucia, aged 20 was held with her 2-year-old son at a CBP facility near San Luis, Texas. She detailed how:  “Some people got ill and started vomiting from only eating soup,” she said. “There was one child there who had diarrhea, had dry lips, he had a fever. The officials didn’t do anything to help the child and didn’t give him anything. They just told us that it was our fault the child was sick and slammed the door on us.”

Below is a portion of actual testimony filed with the court.

Declaration from mother Keila P (Photo: USA Today Handout)

Such conditions produce a potentially deadly breeding ground for sepsis, and children are among the most vulnerable populations. Again, sepsis prevention is a simple matter of providing clean drinkable water, nourishing food prepared in a sanitary manner – and basic toiletries – especially soap and water. CBP has shown a pattern of indifference as the agency collectively refuses to provide for basic human needs. In short, CBP – (with malice and premeditation), created the conditions which grow sepsis. The agency acted as a willing accomplice to Jakelin’s death.

Sepsis treatment requires early intervention…which Jakelin was denied…

The treatment for sepsis demands early recognition in order to avoid patient death. Once again, CBP has shown a pattern of unnecessary delays and denial of medical treatment, which contradicts the STANDARD medical protocol for treatment. The Sepsis Alliance is a group that works to increase awareness of this condition in order to save lives. They claim that;

…”Sepsis needs to be suspected and recognized as quickly as possible. It must be treated fast as every hour that sepsis is not treated increases the risk of death.

Treatment is with IV fluids and antibiotics. Other medications, such as those to raise blood pressure may be needed. If your child is admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), you may see many machines used to monitor various things, such as body function (heart rate, blood pressure), medications and IV fluids that are being administered, and perhaps a ventilator to help your child breathe.”

Any delay in treatment often leads to patient death.

National Center for Biotechnology Information aka NIH—not ‘fake news’…

The National Center for Biotechnology Information which is the “database arm of the U.S. National Library of Medicine,” operating under the auspices of the NIH National Institutes for Health, (Source :  https://www.ncbi.nih.gov/) published a paper on the causes and approved treatment of septic shock in children titled : Early recognition and management of septic shock in children. The paper explains how septic shock or sepsis can rapidly produce multiple organ failure without appropriate medical intervention. To quote;

…”Early recognition and aggressive therapy of septic shock, by means of abundant fluid resuscitation, use of catecholamines and other adjuvant drugs, are widely considered of pivotal importance to improve the short and long-term outcome of these patients. The aim of this paper is to summarize the modern approach to septic shock in children, particularly in its very initial phase, when pediatric healthcare providers may be required to intervene in the pre-intensive care unit setting or just on admission in the pediatric intensive care unit.”

The NIH clearly states that early recognition and aggressive therapy is required using …”abundant fluid resuscitation,” in conjunction with various pharmaceutical therapies. The only reason a child would require “abundant fluid resuscitation” would be in the case of severe dehydration. There was no report of any pathogen, cancer or viral condition which would cause such dehydration in Jakelin’s case according to the coroner.

Border Patrol spokesman, Chris Cabrera’s stunning admission…about Jakelin’s…murder…

Border Patrol spokesman and union official Chris Cabrera has been a regular fixture on the mainstream media as a CBP spokesman. He has appeared on a multitude of media outlets from CNN to NPR to Fox. Just a year ago Cabrera unequivocally stated that migrant children in CBP custody are treated humanely – and he achieved this feat – with a straight face. He has repeated this mantra many times for many years. It’s a shame that his fiction doesn’t match the evidence—or his own statement in January of 2019 during a day-long interview with the New York Mag, Intelligencer’s Mattathias Schwartz, regarding the case of Jakelin Caal Maquin. During this interview, Cabrera made an inadvertent admission that refutes his earlier testimonies to the press.

Cabrera plainly stated that Jakelin was refused basic food and water for survival according to anonymous sources. During the course of their day-long discussion, Cabrera blurted out that…

“This little girl,” he said, meaning Jakelin, “people know what happened. But they’re looking past the fact that this little girl – she wasn’t given any food or water for seven days before she died.”

To date, there has been no further investigation regarding the evidence chain that led to Jakelin’s murder. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a child has died while in Border Patrol custody.

Border patrol apprehension methods constitute human rights violations…

The “Culture of Cruelty” report identified three basic apprehension methods CBP employs that demonstrate premeditated intent to inflict severe injury or indirectly cause death. The first apprehension and deterrence method simply involves the direct steering of migrants to the deadliest corridors along the southern border. CBP agents call it ‘dusting.’ Apparently, the goal is to insure, that migrants become hopelessly lost in the desert. To quote the report;

…”When Border Patrol finds migrants in the desert, the practice of “dusting” – using helicopters, vehicles, dogs, and horses to rush at and separate groups, apprehending some individuals while leaving others behind – makes those who have been scattered more likely to become disoriented and lost in the desert.”

Volunteers from multiple humanitarian groups attempting search and rescue actions, also reported that Border Patrol agents withheld information about ‘dusting’ victims now lost in the desert. CBP failed to respond to missing person reports. Additionally, volunteers reported that Border Patrol agents actively interfered with medical personnel providing emergency care.

Witnesses reported that Border Patrol routinely destroyed emergency aid such as food, water and blankets in the middle of the desert. Plastic water bottles were slashed, and food was dumped. Volunteers repeatedly witnessed Border Patrol agents dumping water out of bottles in the middle of the desert. Such action is the equivalent of a looming death sentence, yet not a single Border Patrol agent has been investigated or held accountable.

CBP as a rogue agency…

The ‘Culture of Cruelty’ report conducted by No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes revealed claims of criminal abuse in the CBP. One detainee reported how; “We were held with another woman who was coughing so badly that she threw up violently, over and over. The others in the cell called for help. An officer came over and said, ‘Que se muera!’ – ‘Let her die!”

Findings in the report…”demonstrate that the abuse, neglect, and dehumanization of migrants is part of the institutional culture of the Border Patrol, reinforced by an absence of meaningful accountability mechanisms. This systemic abuse must be confronted aggressively at the institutional level, not denied or dismissed as a series of aberrational incidents attributable to a few rogue agents. Until then we can expect this culture of cruelty to continue to deprive individuals in Border Patrol custody of their most fundamental human rights.”

The most damning statement came from the authors of the study. They concluded that CBP systemic practices…”plainly meet the definition of torture under international law.”

CBP officers and supervisors have operated as rogue agents minus any accountability provisions for far too long. Any complaints or reports of CBP abuses must be initially filed with the very Border Patrol that is abusing them – while in custody. That policy alone is a spit away from the injustices seen in totalitarian ‘banana’ republics. CBP administration and agents in the field must be held accountable using a transparent process – with an independent entity conducting any review and investigation of CBP procedures and personnel. The present policy of CBP ‘self-study’ is little more than the…’fox guarding the henhouse.’ Anything less than full transparency and accountability represents an ongoing, open invitation to maintain the present level of systemic abuse in CBP – the same systemic abuse that murdered 7-year-old Jakelin.

Conclusion – racist politics – Trump’s granddaughter gets cake – and Jakelin gets a coffin…

Arabella Rose Kushner, the president’s granddaughter is seven-years-old – from a wealthy family – and most importantly – White. Her next birthday party will be in July of 2019. Undoubtedly, her eighth birthday party will have lavish presents, friends, a pony ride and birthday cake. Arabella lives as a member of the 1% and has never known hunger. Her birthday cake will likely come from a boutique bakery in Manhattan that specializes in elaborate re-creations of Elsa – or Wonder Woman, that have been artfully crafted from flour, eggs and sugar. The cost of her birthday cake alone – would likely be enough to feed a migrant family of six – for a month.

Jakelin Caal Maquin was born in Guatemala and traveled to the U.S. with her family to find a better life.  Her parents sought legal asylum from the plague of ongoing gang violence in their home nation. Her birthday cakes were most likely homemade and simple. Though her family loved her, Jakelin will never have another birthday cake, or another birthday.  Jakelin was seven years old when she died – the same age as Arabella Kushner. Unlike Arabella – Jakelin will never again open birthday presents eagerly looking for that Barbie doll, gossip and giggle with her best friend, or go to her High School prom. Her father will not walk her down the aisle or bounce any grandchildren on his knee because Jakelin was murdered at the tender age of seven – for being undocumented – and Latina.

She died while in Border Patrol (CBP) custody, due to criminal neglect and abuse. It was alleged by various anonymous authorities that she died from dehydration and septic shock after being refused food and water for seven days.

There was no further explanation or established causal chain of evidence that otherwise clarified how a seven-year-old child died from septic shock resulting in total organ failure. The Border Patrol held this child prisoner – until she died a gruesome death.

Apparently, that chain of evidence is too obtuse for US Senator Roy Blunt – his anonymous aides – and other members of the GOP – supporting this Trump administration’s – ‘culture of cruelty’ – but kudos for Steve King’s impotent reprimand.

Correction: 
The author wants to correct the statement that Jakelin Caal Maquin was in Border Patrol custody for 7 days. That is in error. Jakelin was in Border Patrol custody for approximately 11 hours after crossing into New Mexico. They were in the middle of the desert and there is no way of knowing if the bus had any air conditioning. CBP officials claimed that Jakelin was offered food and water but were unsure if she ate or drank anything. There is no corroborating evidence to support CBP’s claim. 
A CBP official had father sign a form claiming that Jakelin had no serious medical issues. Attorneys for the family explained that the forms were in English, which the family does not speak or understand. They speak Q’eqchi’ which is a Mayan dialect, and Spanish is their second language. CBP officials also claimed that Jakelin was visually screened for any possible medical problems.  Lawyers for the family explained that; “It is unacceptable for any government agency to have persons in custody sign documents in a language that they clearly do not understand,” (Statement issued by lawyers Enrique Moreno, Elena Esparza, Lynn Coyle and Christopher Benoit)
Jakelin became ill while in transit between border patrol stations, vomiting followed by seizures. She reportedly had a fever of 105.7.  She was then transported by Air Ambulance to El Paso’s Providence Children’s Hospital. According to DHS, Jakelin went into cardiac arrest at Providence Hospital and died. 
Attorneys for the family are challenging the DHS narrative that claims her father did not feed Jakelin for days during the journey. Below is the attorney statement: 
“Prior to going into CBP custody and contrary to the report that Jakelin had ‘not eaten or had any water for several days’, Jakelin had not been crossing the desert for days,” the statement says. “Jakelin’s father took care of Jakelin – made sure she was fed and had sufficient water.”
There remains no explanation regarding the cause of this tragic sequence of events. The family has noted that both the El Paso Medical Examiner and the staff at Providence hospital have not released any reports on this case.
The statement made by Border Patrol Spokesman remains suspicious. Here is the statement: “This little girl,” he said, meaning Jakelin, “people know what happened. But they’re looking past the fact that this little girl – she wasn’t given any food or water for seven days before she died.”
The author stands by the remainder of the article. The CBP has a long history of documented abuse for many years over more than one administration. Though the article features Jakelin, the story is about the history of child abuse that remains unchallenged in the Border Patrol. 
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Jeanine Molloff
Jeanine Molloff is a veteran urban educator specializing in communications disorders. She moonlights as a political commentator on various issues including civil liberties in an age of ‘terrorism’, ecological justice, collateral damage in war zones, economic equity and education. Jeanine has published with Huffington Post, OpEdNews, FireDogLake, Counterpunch and Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. In an era of state and corporate sanctioned censorship; she believes that journalism which demands answers to the tough questions is the last remaining bulwark of democracy. Now more than ever we need the likes of I.F. Stone over the insipid voices of celebrity infotainment. Jeanine works and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
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