Fact check: Trump twists facts of a migrant girl's death

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the circumstances of a 7-year-old migrant girl's death as he seeks to steer any potential blame for it away from his administration.

Trump, after mockingly painting asylum seekers as a "con job" in a rally the previous night, asserted on Friday that Jakelin Caal Maquin was given no water by her father during their trek to a remote border area and that the dad acknowledged blame for his daughter's death on Dec. 8. Those assertions are not supported by the record.

TRUMP: "I think that it's been very well stated that we've done a fantastic job. ... The father gave the child no water for a long period of time - he actually admitted blame." — to reporters Friday.

THE FACTS: An autopsy report released Friday found that Guatemalan girl died of a bacterial infection just more than a day after being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. The El Paso County Medical Examiner's office said traces of streptococcus bacteria were found in Jakelin's lungs, adrenal gland, liver, and spleen, and she experienced a "rapidly progressive infection" that led to the failure of multiple organs.

Neither the autopsy report, nor accounts at the time by Customs and Border Protection , spoke of dehydration. And through family lawyers, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz said after his girl's death that he made sure she had food and water as they traveled through Mexico.

Moreover, the Border Protection timeline on her case said she was checked for medical problems upon her apprehension and: "The initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues."

Related: U.S. troops sent to border by Trump in anticipation of migrant caravans 

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Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military tour the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Onlookers watch as members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians pass members of the U.S. military working to place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor wire recently placed by the U.S.military along the banks of the Rio Grande frames the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S. military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pedestrians pass members of the U.S.military working to place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A member of the U.S.military cuts fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge as they work to place razor wire in the area, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border on the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, soldiers from the the 89th Military Police Brigade, and 41st Engineering Company, 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan., arrive at Valley International Airport, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018, in Harlingen, Texas, to conduct the first missions along the southern border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The soldiers will provide a range of support including planning assistance, engineering support, equipment and resources to assist the Department of Homeland Security along the Southwest border. (Alexandra Minor/U.S. Air Force via AP)
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The girl and her father were caught at 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 6 in a group of more than 100 people trying to cross the border, less than a mile or kilometer from the Antelope Wells entry port in New Mexico. The father claimed upon their apprehension that she was in good health. In any event, no health problems were observed.

Her first distress was reported at 5 a.m. the next day, when her father said she was vomiting on a bus waiting to take them to a Border Patrol station at Lordsburg, New Mexico. When the bus arrived close to 6:30 a.m., the father said Jakelin was not breathing. A Border Patrol emergency technician revived her twice. She had a temperature of 105.7 degrees. At 7:45 a.m., a helicopter flew her to the nearest trauma center, in El Paso, Texas, where she went into cardiac arrest late that morning and was revived once more.

By then breathing by machine, with brain swelling and liver failure, she died on Dec. 8 at 12:35 a.m., her father with her.

Afterward, Trump insisted in tweets that the girl and another Guatemalan child who died in custody, Felipe Gomez Alonzo , were "were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol."

But the boy also did not arouse any concern in initial screenings. He was in U.S. custody for five days before suddenly falling ill.

In his Michigan rally Thursday night, Trump entertained his supporters with an apocryphal story of a "heavyweight champion of the world" pleading a hardship case while seeking asylum. "It's a big fat con job, folks. It's a big fat con job."

He said "you have people coming up here" who are coached by lawyers to "say the following phrase: 'I am very afraid for my life. I am afraid for my life.' OK."

On Friday, he said of the children's deaths when asked about them: "It's a horrible situation. But Mexico could stop it."

 

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