Christmas 2018 will be a day of sadness in the tiny Guatemalan village of San Antonio Secortez.
It is the day when the family of seven year-old Jakelin Caal will hold her funeral.
Jakelin died earlier this month while in the custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol after she crossed into the United States with her father, Nery. They were part of one of the caravans of Central American migrants.
Jakelin’s small white coffin arrived at the airport in Guatemala City Sunday and was brought 354 kilometers north to the dirt-poor village.
Among the while balloons and flowers surrounding the casket was a hand-written message to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales saying “We ask you for jobs, electricity, potable water, roads…so we don’t have to emigrate.”
Nery Caal entered the U.S. in the hopes of finding work, which does not exist across much of Guatemala.
It is still unclear exactly how Jakelin became ill.
She was apparently well when agents arrested her and her father along with other migrants when they crossed the U.S. border into New Mexico on December 6.
She became sick on the bus ride to a border patrol station and arrived with 41 degree Celsius fever.
Emergency medical teams flew her to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she died two days later. Her brain was swollen and her liver had failed.
U.S. agents say the child likely had little to eat and drink before arriving at the U.S. border.
Critics of U.S. immigration policy point to Jakelin’s death as an example of the harsh treatment many migrants can expect when they cross the U.S. borders.
President Donald Trump has said all immigrants are welcome to the U.S. but must come to the country legally.
Source: VOA news