Little Jakelin Caal has already moved from the news to the op-ed and commentary pages. While there’s something unsavory about using a 7-year-old girl’s death to advance a political agenda, whether from the left or the right, what I find more interesting is the apparent lack of journalistic curiosity regarding her journey from Guatemala to Antelope Wells. Within hours of the announcement of her death, TV cameras were on the scene in the remote Mayan village where her grandfather lives, but nobody seems to have inquired about how she made her way to New Mexico.
Although the father’s spokesman “declined to give details about their trip from Guatemala, he did say they had largely traveled by bus, and that they had not spent significant time in the remote desert west of Juarez where they ultimately crossed the border.”
Although the crossing is used by vans and SUVs carrying tourists from Phoenix to Mata Ortiz, there is no regular bus service to Antelope Wells. There is not even a town of any description on either side of the line there. The border post itself is closed at night and is at any time entirely without staffing or facilities to accommodate large numbers of people.
So someone arranged to have Jakelin, her father, and 160 other people dropped in the middle of the night at what is probably the single most remote and inaccessible border crossing along the entire 2,000+ mile frontier. I would hope there is no one cynical and cold-blooded enough to stage-manage a tragedy for political points. But it’s a question that needs to be asked.