The lawmaker leading a congressional delegation to visit several of the last places a Guatemalan girl was alive while in federal custody called for the head of the U.S. border protection agency to resign on Tuesday.
"I believe he should step down," Representative Joaquin Castro said of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan during a news conference in Lordsburg, New Mexico.
Castro was among 13 representatives and newly-elected members of Congress who asked to tour two facilities where 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin was taken by border agents after she, her father and 161 other migrants were detained Dec. 6 in the New Mexico desert.
The girl died Dec. 8, prompting multiple investigations into how and when she fell ill, how agents handled her care and what, if anything, could have prevented her death from septic shock so quickly after arriving in the U.S.
?U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz, an emergency room doctor turned lawmaker from California, said the equipment and training the border agents had was insufficient to properly care for the girl, who began vomiting during an early-morning bus ride to Lordsburg.
Another delegation member said the table where she was treated in Lordsburg now has two microwave ovens on top of it.
The first facility where Jakelin and the other detainees were taken — in an even more remote stretch of New Mexico called Antelope Wells — does not have running water due to contamination and has only two portable toilets available, according to delegation members.
"The SPCA [Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] wouldn't allow animals to be treated the way humans are being treated in this facility," U.S. Representative Al Green said after the visit.
The group, led by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called for a congressional investigation in addition to the internal reviews under way at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP.
"My heart goes out to the family," DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement after news of the tragedy broke Friday. She added, "This is a very sad example of the dangers of this journey. This family chose to cross illegally."
Delegation members also said President Donald Trump's insistence on building up the border wall along the frontier with Mexico is "out of touch with realities on the ground," and that the real need is for better equipment, procedures and training.
Trump and Congress are locked in a budget battle that could lead to a partial government shutdown in the coming days over funding for the border wall.