Reporter Ron Nixon recounted the story of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died, possibly of dehydration, after her father illegally crossed the U.S. border into New Mexico, in Saturday’s New York Times. But Nixon and his headline writer weaponized the tragedy to immediately put Trump on the defensive: “White House Says It’s Not to Blame for Girl’s Death.” Not even the Washington Post headline was that bluntly hostile.
He laid blame directly at the Trump Administration’s feet, while also linking it to Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.
A White House official said on Friday that the Trump administration was not responsible for the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died from dehydration last week while in the custody of the Border Patrol.
Only liberal activists and the press would truly believe the administration was somehow “responsible” for the girl’s death, more than the father who put her in that position.
Officials said the girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, and her father were among 163 migrants who turned themselves in to the Border Patrol in a remote area of desert in New Mexico, shortly after the group crossed into the United States.
Her death, which is under investigation, has been widely condemned as a consequence of the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration enforcement efforts on the southwest border against caravans of migrants traveling from Central America.
Hogan Gidley, the White House deputy press secretary, called Jakelin’s death “a horrific, tragic situation.”
A reporter asked if the administration would take any responsibility for the death.
“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country?” Mr. Gidley responded. “No.”
Officials said Jakelin’s father signed a form saying she did not have any health problems. The document was in English, but officials said Border Patrol agents spoke with the father in Spanish and explained the form to him.
Around 6:30 a.m., officials said, Jakelin began having seizures and her temperature had climbed to nearly 106 degrees. At the Lordsburg station, Border Patrol agents with medical training tried to help her before she was flown to a hospital in El Paso.
There, she went into cardiac arrest and died. Officials said she also had brain swelling.
Kevin K. McAleenan, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, said Border Patrol agents did everything they could to save Jakelin’s life.
The Times let a former Obama-administration official (and presidential candidate) rail against Trump, as if the administration she served in had no controversies involving migrants.
“There are no words to capture the horror of a seven-year-old girl dying of dehydration in U.S. custody,” Hillary Clinton, who unsuccessfully challenged President Trump in 2016, wrote on Twitter. “What’s happening at our borders is a humanitarian crisis.”
Jakelin’s death is the not first time the Trump administration has come under criticism for its treatment of migrant children.
The administration was blasted this year for separating migrant children from their parents as a result of a “zero tolerance” illegal immigration policy at the border.