Customs and Border Protection will now inform Congress, press of any death within 24 hours

New guidelines say the agency has 24 hours to notify members of Congress of a death, and the news media one hour after that.
Image: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials detain a group of migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, after they crossed illegally from Mexico to the U.S, as seen from Tijuana
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials detain a group of migrants, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, after they crossed illegally from Mexico to the U.S, as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, December 11, 2018.Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

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By Nicole Acevedo

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that it will now inform Congress and the press within 24 hours when someone dies in its custody, according to newly published guidelines.

Once lawmakers have been told, the agency has one hour to issue statements to the news media and nongovernmental organizations that help migrants.

The agency's move comes after it faced scrutiny for waiting five days to publicly acknowledge the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, 7, a Guatemalan girl who had crossed the border with her father.

Jakelin died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 8, while she was in CBP custody. Hospital officials said the apparent cause of death was sepsis shock. Autopsy results have not been released.

“To secure and maintain the public trust, CBP’s intent is to be accessible and transparent by providing appropriate information to the Congress and the public regarding any death occurring in custody,” the agency said Wednesday. “Maintaining this trust is, in part, dependent on timely and sufficient notification to the extent permitted by law and CBP policy.”

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