‘We are bringing Jakelin Caal into the room with us’

Progressive Democrats clap back at Trump with pins bearing image of girl who died in U.S. custody at border

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, is seen in the House Chamber as President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., center, is seen in the House Chamber as President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 5, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted February 6, 2019 at 9:25am

Progressive freshman Democrats wore pins to the State of the Union Tuesday bearing the photo of Jakelin Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old girl from Guatemala who died in U.S. custody at the border last year. 

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted Monday that she would be wearing the pin into the House chamber during the president’s address. She was joined by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

The pins served as a rebuke to President Donald Trump’s argument for a southern border wall Tuesday night; while Trump has argued that criminal migrants are crossing the border at crisis levels, border apprehensions have trended downward. The pins underlined that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has actually been strained by a surge in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Caal Maquin died after 25 hours in the custody of the Border Patrol following a journey to New Mexico from Guatemala with her father. Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an 8-year-old boy who emigrated from Guatemala, also died in U.S. custody later that month.

The freshman Democrats accused the Trump administration of treating the Department of Homeland Security like a “slush fund,” of abusing public resources and of the inhumane treatment of migrants in a January Dear Colleague letter first reported by the Daily Beast.

They have called on Congress to stop allocating funding to CBP or Immigration and Customs Enforcement until those concerns have been addressed under the banner “not another dollar.”