Pistol-Packing Teachers Becoming More Common in Arkansas

Dale Cresswell keeps his gun on his hip at all times: in his classroom, at sporting events, whenever he’s at school.

Cresswell, head coach to the senior boys’ track and cross-country teams, is one of a small, but growing group of teachers around the United States who are volunteering to carry a weapon. His employer, Heber Springs School District, just came online this semester.

“It was a no-brainer. I have a daughter still in school,” said Cresswell of his decision, acknowledging that he might know any potential shooter. “I see it as, I’m protecting more than one person. I’m protecting all the other students.”

Tests and training

In order to qualify, Cresswell and other faculty, including administrators and IT professionals who can move around more easily, underwent background checks and psychological tests. They continue to go through rigorous training.

“I know that last summer there was a big movement here. We were fortunate that we had made the decision early, and we were able to secure trainers and get our time slot locked in,” said Heber Springs School District Superintendent Alan Stauffacher, noting that some other schools are “struggling” to get set up.

A semester in, the novelty of Cresswell carrying a weapon has worn off. He said that when asked, the students tell him they don’t even notice his gun anymore.

​Sandy Hook 

While there appears to have been no law prohibiting it, guns were rarely carried by teachers in Arkansas schools before a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut in 2012.

That incident prompted David Hopkins, superintendent of the Clarksville Public Schools in Clarksville, Arkansas, to begin searching for more effective ways to protect his students.

“It was just so terrible. Something like that, it makes you really pause,” Hopkins said. “I started getting calls from parents and grandparents asking, ‘What are you doing to protect our kids?’”

At that time, Hopkins wondered whether what he had in mind — arming faculty across each school in the district — was even legal. Since then, he has counseled other Arkansan schools as they follow suit.

“It’s not like we want to be cowboys, but if you stop and think about the reality of someone coming into your business or your school, don’t you want to be prepared?” he asked.

Protecting schools, students

Protecting schools from future shootings has increasingly occupied administrators and lawmakers’ time. Just this year, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S.

After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tasked a committee with studying how to prevent future school shootings.

Their report, released earlier this month, stressed that individual schools need to make decisions for themselves, but recommended that “no campus should ever be without an armed presence when staff and children are attending class or a major extracurricular activity.”

A study published by Vice News in March found that at least 14 of the 50 states arm teachers and another 16 allow local school boards to decide on the issue.

But while Cresswell and Hopkins believe arming teachers serves as a deterrent for gun violence, not everyone agrees.

Following the Safety Commission report, Moms Demand Action stated that “putting guns in the hands of teachers is not the answer…” and that “research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe.”

“As a general rule, I don’t think anyone believes that it is preventative. I think that most thoughtful individuals know that if a person sets out to do harm to themselves or someone else, they’re not gonna stop and think ‘Oh, there might be someone armed,’” said Cathy Koehler, president of the Arkansas Education Association.

Koehler stopped short of saying that faculty shouldn’t be armed, recognizing that it can take 20 minutes for police in some rural counties to respond to a situation. She stressed that schools should gain community buy-in, which superintendents in both Clarksville and Heber Springs said they did.

“Our preference is always going to be that the investment is made in the mental health services that are so desperately needed and are underfunded,” Koehler said.

Scott Gauntt, a member of the Safety Commission and superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District, said he has received no pressure to arm teachers.

Westside was the site of a deadly shooting 20 years ago, so it is often invoked in conversations about school safety. Like other superintendents interviewed, Gauntt takes his role as protector of students very seriously.

“Just about every time we hear of another shooting, we look at how that took place. How would we have combated that? Could we fix that?” Gauntt asked.

Over the years, the school has installed dozens of surveillance cameras and stronger classroom locks. Teachers undergo survival training to apply a tourniquet, for example, in order to prevent kids from bleeding out from bullet wounds. Students as young as those in elementary school are taught to be a “partner in [their] own survival.” Instead of hiding quietly under their desks, they are now taught to make loud noises and throw things.

“It’s mind boggling that I’ve gotta go down and tell a kindergartener that if a man comes in and tries to shoot you, that you need to run around and scream,” Gauntt said. “That’s not why I got into education.”

When it comes to arming teachers inside the classroom, he’s reluctant to take a hard stance but admits that he worries about guns getting loose.

Ultimately, most parties agree that despite all precautions, a motivated shooter will find a way to do harm.

“School safety is an illusion,” Gauntt said.

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Pistol-Packing Teachers Becoming More Common in Arkansas

Dale Cresswell keeps his gun on his hip at all times: in his classroom, at sporting events, whenever he’s at school.

Cresswell, head coach to the senior boys’ track and cross-country teams, is one of a small, but growing group of teachers around the United States who are volunteering to carry a weapon. His employer, Heber Springs School District, just came online this semester.

“It was a no-brainer. I have a daughter still in school,” said Cresswell of his decision, acknowledging that he might know any potential shooter. “I see it as, I’m protecting more than one person. I’m protecting all the other students.”

Tests and training

In order to qualify, Cresswell and other faculty, including administrators and IT professionals who can move around more easily, underwent background checks and psychological tests. They continue to go through rigorous training.

“I know that last summer there was a big movement here. We were fortunate that we had made the decision early, and we were able to secure trainers and get our time slot locked in,” said Heber Springs School District Superintendent Alan Stauffacher, noting that some other schools are “struggling” to get set up.

A semester in, the novelty of Cresswell carrying a weapon has worn off. He said that when asked, the students tell him they don’t even notice his gun anymore.

​Sandy Hook 

While there appears to have been no law prohibiting it, guns were rarely carried by teachers in Arkansas schools before a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut in 2012.

That incident prompted David Hopkins, superintendent of the Clarksville Public Schools in Clarksville, Arkansas, to begin searching for more effective ways to protect his students.

“It was just so terrible. Something like that, it makes you really pause,” Hopkins said. “I started getting calls from parents and grandparents asking, ‘What are you doing to protect our kids?’”

At that time, Hopkins wondered whether what he had in mind — arming faculty across each school in the district — was even legal. Since then, he has counseled other Arkansan schools as they follow suit.

“It’s not like we want to be cowboys, but if you stop and think about the reality of someone coming into your business or your school, don’t you want to be prepared?” he asked.

Protecting schools, students

Protecting schools from future shootings has increasingly occupied administrators and lawmakers’ time. Just this year, 113 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S.

After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson tasked a committee with studying how to prevent future school shootings.

Their report, released earlier this month, stressed that individual schools need to make decisions for themselves, but recommended that “no campus should ever be without an armed presence when staff and children are attending class or a major extracurricular activity.”

A study published by Vice News in March found that at least 14 of the 50 states arm teachers and another 16 allow local school boards to decide on the issue.

But while Cresswell and Hopkins believe arming teachers serves as a deterrent for gun violence, not everyone agrees.

Following the Safety Commission report, Moms Demand Action stated that “putting guns in the hands of teachers is not the answer…” and that “research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe.”

“As a general rule, I don’t think anyone believes that it is preventative. I think that most thoughtful individuals know that if a person sets out to do harm to themselves or someone else, they’re not gonna stop and think ‘Oh, there might be someone armed,’” said Cathy Koehler, president of the Arkansas Education Association.

Koehler stopped short of saying that faculty shouldn’t be armed, recognizing that it can take 20 minutes for police in some rural counties to respond to a situation. She stressed that schools should gain community buy-in, which superintendents in both Clarksville and Heber Springs said they did.

“Our preference is always going to be that the investment is made in the mental health services that are so desperately needed and are underfunded,” Koehler said.

Scott Gauntt, a member of the Safety Commission and superintendent of Westside Consolidated School District, said he has received no pressure to arm teachers.

Westside was the site of a deadly shooting 20 years ago, so it is often invoked in conversations about school safety. Like other superintendents interviewed, Gauntt takes his role as protector of students very seriously.

“Just about every time we hear of another shooting, we look at how that took place. How would we have combated that? Could we fix that?” Gauntt asked.

Over the years, the school has installed dozens of surveillance cameras and stronger classroom locks. Teachers undergo survival training to apply a tourniquet, for example, in order to prevent kids from bleeding out from bullet wounds. Students as young as those in elementary school are taught to be a “partner in [their] own survival.” Instead of hiding quietly under their desks, they are now taught to make loud noises and throw things.

“It’s mind boggling that I’ve gotta go down and tell a kindergartener that if a man comes in and tries to shoot you, that you need to run around and scream,” Gauntt said. “That’s not why I got into education.”

When it comes to arming teachers inside the classroom, he’s reluctant to take a hard stance but admits that he worries about guns getting loose.

Ultimately, most parties agree that despite all precautions, a motivated shooter will find a way to do harm.

“School safety is an illusion,” Gauntt said.

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Research Looks at Natural Fertilizer for Greener Agriculture, Cleaner Water

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources. 

The University of Michigan, with support from the National Science Foundation, is working at making our water cleaner, and our agriculture more sustainable, by capturing one of those sources, rather than flushing it down the toilet.

On a hot summer afternoon near Brattleboro, Vermont, farmer Dean Hamilton has fired up his tractor and is fertilizing his hay field — with human urine. 

It takes a bit of time to get used to, says environmental engineer Nancy Love.

“I’ve been surprised at how many people actually get beyond the giggle factor pretty quickly,” she said, “and are willing to listen.”

Fine-tuning the recycling

Rich Earth Institute, a nonprofit, is working with Love and her team. Abraham Noe-Hays says they are fine-tuning new methods to recycle urine into fertilizer.

“There’s a great quote by Buckminster Fuller about how pollution is nothing but the resources that we’re not harvesting, and that we allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value,” he said.

Harvesting the resource of urine — which is, after all, full of the same nutrients as chemical fertilizer — will fix two problems at once: eliminate waste and create a natural fertilizer.

The Rich Earth Institute has been using urine as fertilizer since 2012. Kim Nace says they collect about 26,000 liters a year, thanks to a loyal group of dedicated donors.

“We now have people who have some source-separating toilets in their homes. We also have people who have 55 gallon (200-liter) barrels where they collect and then we transport to our farms, and we’ve also got a large urine depot,” Nace said.

They pasteurize the urine to kill any microbes, and then it is applied directly onto hay fields like Hamilton’s.

Next level of project

Now that they’ve partnered with the University of Michigan, Love says they’re looking to take their project to the next level.

“There are three things we really are trying to do with the urine in this kind of next phase. We’re trying to concentrate it. We’re trying to apply technologies to reduce odor, and we’re trying to deal with trace contaminants like the pharmaceuticals,” she said.

Dealing with pharmaceuticals is an important issue. Heat urine kills germs but has no effect on chemicals like drugs that pass through our bodies.

“We know pharmaceuticals are a problem for aquatic organisms and water systems,” Love said. “It’s debatable about the impact on human health at very, very low levels. Independent of that, I think most people would prefer that they not be in their food.”

21st century infrastructure

For Love, this is all about redesigning our wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century. Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

“Our water emissions are going into very sensitive water bodies that are vulnerable to these nutrient loads,” she said. “We need to change that dynamic. And if we can capture them and put them to a beneficial use, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Their efforts could make agriculture greener and our waterways cleaner.

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Research Looks at Natural Fertilizer for Greener Agriculture, Cleaner Water

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources. 

The University of Michigan, with support from the National Science Foundation, is working at making our water cleaner, and our agriculture more sustainable, by capturing one of those sources, rather than flushing it down the toilet.

On a hot summer afternoon near Brattleboro, Vermont, farmer Dean Hamilton has fired up his tractor and is fertilizing his hay field — with human urine. 

It takes a bit of time to get used to, says environmental engineer Nancy Love.

“I’ve been surprised at how many people actually get beyond the giggle factor pretty quickly,” she said, “and are willing to listen.”

Fine-tuning the recycling

Rich Earth Institute, a nonprofit, is working with Love and her team. Abraham Noe-Hays says they are fine-tuning new methods to recycle urine into fertilizer.

“There’s a great quote by Buckminster Fuller about how pollution is nothing but the resources that we’re not harvesting, and that we allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value,” he said.

Harvesting the resource of urine — which is, after all, full of the same nutrients as chemical fertilizer — will fix two problems at once: eliminate waste and create a natural fertilizer.

The Rich Earth Institute has been using urine as fertilizer since 2012. Kim Nace says they collect about 26,000 liters a year, thanks to a loyal group of dedicated donors.

“We now have people who have some source-separating toilets in their homes. We also have people who have 55 gallon (200-liter) barrels where they collect and then we transport to our farms, and we’ve also got a large urine depot,” Nace said.

They pasteurize the urine to kill any microbes, and then it is applied directly onto hay fields like Hamilton’s.

Next level of project

Now that they’ve partnered with the University of Michigan, Love says they’re looking to take their project to the next level.

“There are three things we really are trying to do with the urine in this kind of next phase. We’re trying to concentrate it. We’re trying to apply technologies to reduce odor, and we’re trying to deal with trace contaminants like the pharmaceuticals,” she said.

Dealing with pharmaceuticals is an important issue. Heat urine kills germs but has no effect on chemicals like drugs that pass through our bodies.

“We know pharmaceuticals are a problem for aquatic organisms and water systems,” Love said. “It’s debatable about the impact on human health at very, very low levels. Independent of that, I think most people would prefer that they not be in their food.”

21st century infrastructure

For Love, this is all about redesigning our wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century. Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

“Our water emissions are going into very sensitive water bodies that are vulnerable to these nutrient loads,” she said. “We need to change that dynamic. And if we can capture them and put them to a beneficial use, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Their efforts could make agriculture greener and our waterways cleaner.

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Project Recycles Human Urine as Fertilizer

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources. A project at the University of Michigan is aimed at making our water cleaner and our agriculture more sustainable by capturing one of those sources … rather than flushing it down the toilet. Faith Lapidus explains.

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The Historic Place Where Literary, Political Worlds Intersect

A relatively modest, independently owned bookstore in Washington has become a standout on the cultural scene in the U.S. capital. It’s called Politics and Prose. Since opening in 1984, it’s managed to survive the age of online book buying and thrive as a magnet for some of the world’s highest profile authors, from former Presidents Clinton and Obama, to J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and photographer Annie Leibovitz. Ani Chkhikvadze stopped by Politics and Prose to learn more about its success.

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The Historic Place Where Literary, Political Worlds Intersect

A relatively modest, independently owned bookstore in Washington has become a standout on the cultural scene in the U.S. capital. It’s called Politics and Prose. Since opening in 1984, it’s managed to survive the age of online book buying and thrive as a magnet for some of the world’s highest profile authors, from former Presidents Clinton and Obama, to J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and photographer Annie Leibovitz. Ani Chkhikvadze stopped by Politics and Prose to learn more about its success.

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Fate of Kansas Ban on Telemedicine Abortions Uncertain

Kansas clinics still don’t know whether it will be legal for them to offer telemedicine abortions in January. Meanwhile a state-court judge Friday derided the upcoming ban as an “air ball” that can’t stop doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to patients they don’t see in person.

An abortion rights group seeking an order to block the ban found its request enmeshed in larger legal battles over abortion. Attorneys for the state raised the question of whether other state laws might block telemedicine abortions, and District Judge Franklin Theis held off on issuing an order.

​Suit: Ban unconstitutional

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of Trust Women of Wichita, which operates a clinic there that performs abortions. Since October, some patients seeking abortion pills have consulted with offsite doctors through teleconferencing, and the clinic hopes to start providing abortion pills to women in rural areas without having them come to Wichita.

The center argues that the new law violates the state constitution by placing an undue burden on women seeking abortion and singling out abortion for special treatment as part of broader policies otherwise meant to encourage telemedicine.

“The use of telemedicine right now for medication abortions is extremely important,” said Leah Wiederhorn, an attorney for the center. “It’s a way for women to access this type of health care during a time when there are a lot of hostile laws that are meant to shut down clinics across the country.”

Seventeen other states have telemedicine abortion bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that advocates for abortion rights. The new Kansas law says that in policies promoting telemedicine, “nothing” authorizes “any abortion procedure via telemedicine.”

But Theis said the law doesn’t give a prosecutor any avenue for pursuing a criminal case. While the state medical board could act against the clinic’s doctors, the judge added, “There’s no jeopardy yet.”

Few clinics

Kansas has no clinics providing abortions outside Wichita and the Kansas City area. The Republican-controlled Legislature has strong anti-abortion majorities, and the state has tightened restrictions over the past decade.

Lawmakers have tried three times to ban telemedicine abortions. In 2011, a ban was part of legislation imposing special regulations on abortion clinics that critics said were meant to shut them down. Providers sued and Theis blocked all of the regulations. The case is still pending.

Legislators passed a law in 2015 requiring a doctor to be in the same room when a woman takes the first of two abortion pills. The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that it’s covered by the 2011 lawsuit over clinic regulations and has been blocked by Theis. Though the judge said he’s inclined to agree, state attorneys argued that it is in effect, even if it hasn’t been enforced.

The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life filed a complaint Friday against the Wichita clinic with the state medical board, asking it to investigate its “illegal” telemedicine abortions. Jeanne Gawdun, the group’s senior lobbyist, called them “dangerous.”

“Where’s that important physician-patient relationship?” Gawdun said. “It’s not there.”

​Few complications

A study of abortions in California, published in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ journal in 2015, said less than one-third of 1 percent of medication abortions resulted in major complications.

The Kansas health department has reported that in 2017, nearly 4,000 medication abortions were reported, or 58 percent of the state’s total, all in the first trimester. It’s not clear if any were telemedicine abortions.

Wiederhorn said banning telemedicine abortion would be a hardship for the clinic’s patients because its doctors, while licensed in Kansas, are outside the state and can spend only two days a week in Wichita. Also, many women in rural areas would face hardships in getting medication abortions without telemedicine, she said.

But Assistant Attorney General Shon Qualseth said: “We’re just theorizing on what could happen.”

 

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Fate of Kansas Ban on Telemedicine Abortions Uncertain

Kansas clinics still don’t know whether it will be legal for them to offer telemedicine abortions in January. Meanwhile a state-court judge Friday derided the upcoming ban as an “air ball” that can’t stop doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to patients they don’t see in person.

An abortion rights group seeking an order to block the ban found its request enmeshed in larger legal battles over abortion. Attorneys for the state raised the question of whether other state laws might block telemedicine abortions, and District Judge Franklin Theis held off on issuing an order.

​Suit: Ban unconstitutional

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of Trust Women of Wichita, which operates a clinic there that performs abortions. Since October, some patients seeking abortion pills have consulted with offsite doctors through teleconferencing, and the clinic hopes to start providing abortion pills to women in rural areas without having them come to Wichita.

The center argues that the new law violates the state constitution by placing an undue burden on women seeking abortion and singling out abortion for special treatment as part of broader policies otherwise meant to encourage telemedicine.

“The use of telemedicine right now for medication abortions is extremely important,” said Leah Wiederhorn, an attorney for the center. “It’s a way for women to access this type of health care during a time when there are a lot of hostile laws that are meant to shut down clinics across the country.”

Seventeen other states have telemedicine abortion bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that advocates for abortion rights. The new Kansas law says that in policies promoting telemedicine, “nothing” authorizes “any abortion procedure via telemedicine.”

But Theis said the law doesn’t give a prosecutor any avenue for pursuing a criminal case. While the state medical board could act against the clinic’s doctors, the judge added, “There’s no jeopardy yet.”

Few clinics

Kansas has no clinics providing abortions outside Wichita and the Kansas City area. The Republican-controlled Legislature has strong anti-abortion majorities, and the state has tightened restrictions over the past decade.

Lawmakers have tried three times to ban telemedicine abortions. In 2011, a ban was part of legislation imposing special regulations on abortion clinics that critics said were meant to shut them down. Providers sued and Theis blocked all of the regulations. The case is still pending.

Legislators passed a law in 2015 requiring a doctor to be in the same room when a woman takes the first of two abortion pills. The Center for Reproductive Rights argues that it’s covered by the 2011 lawsuit over clinic regulations and has been blocked by Theis. Though the judge said he’s inclined to agree, state attorneys argued that it is in effect, even if it hasn’t been enforced.

The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life filed a complaint Friday against the Wichita clinic with the state medical board, asking it to investigate its “illegal” telemedicine abortions. Jeanne Gawdun, the group’s senior lobbyist, called them “dangerous.”

“Where’s that important physician-patient relationship?” Gawdun said. “It’s not there.”

​Few complications

A study of abortions in California, published in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ journal in 2015, said less than one-third of 1 percent of medication abortions resulted in major complications.

The Kansas health department has reported that in 2017, nearly 4,000 medication abortions were reported, or 58 percent of the state’s total, all in the first trimester. It’s not clear if any were telemedicine abortions.

Wiederhorn said banning telemedicine abortion would be a hardship for the clinic’s patients because its doctors, while licensed in Kansas, are outside the state and can spend only two days a week in Wichita. Also, many women in rural areas would face hardships in getting medication abortions without telemedicine, she said.

But Assistant Attorney General Shon Qualseth said: “We’re just theorizing on what could happen.”

 

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Late Guatemalan Girl Dreamed of Sending Money to Family

The 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl who died in U.S. custody this month was inseparable from her father and had looked forward to being able to send money home to support her impoverished family, relatives said  Saturday. 

Nery Caal, 29, and his daughter Jakelin Caal Maquin were in a group of more than 160 migrants who turned themselves in to U.S. border agents in New Mexico on Dec. 6. Jakelin developed a high fever and died two days later while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. 

 

“The girl said when she was grown up she was going to work and send dough back to her mom and grandma,” said her mother, Claudia Maquin, who has three remaining children, speaking in the Mayan language Q’eqchi’ and betraying little outward emotion. 

“Because she’d never seen a big country, she was really happy that she was going to go,” she added, explaining how her husband had gone to the United States to find a way out of the “extreme poverty” that dictated their lives. 

 

Corn stood behind her palm-thatched wooden house, and there were a few chickens and pigs in the yard. The mother was dressed in a traditional blouse and held a 6-month-old baby in her arms. 

A family photograph at the house showed Jakelin smiling and looking up at the camera, wearing a pink T-shirt with characters from the cartoon series Masha and the Bear. 

Hard lives

 

Deforestation to make way for palm oil plantations has made subsistence farming increasingly hard for the 40,000 inhabitants of Raxruha municipality, where the family’s agricultural hamlet of San Antonio de Cortez lies in central Guatemala, local officials said. That has spurred an exodus of migrants.  

Setting out on Dec. 1, Caal and his daughter traveled more than 2,000 miles (3,220 km) so Jakelin’s father could look for work in the United States, said her mother, who learned of the girl’s death from consular officials. 

 

Almost 80 percent of Guatemala’s indigenous population is poor, with half of those people living in extreme poverty. The mayor of San Antonio de Cortez described the Caal family as among the worst off in the village. 

 

Mayor Cesar Castro said in recent months that more and more families were uprooting to try to reach the United States, often selling what little land they owned to pay people traffickers thousands of dollars for the trip.

“It’s not just the Caal family. There are endless people who are leaving,” Castro said. “I see them drive past in pickups, cars and buses.” He said most of them came back in the end, often penniless after being dropped off by traffickers, caught by authorities and deported. 

 

Jakelin’s death has added to criticism of U.S. of President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies from migrant advocates and Democrats in the U.S. Congress. 

 

The U.S. government defended Jakelin’s treatment, and said there was no indication she had any medical problems until several hours after she and her father were taken into custody. 

 

Inseparable 

 

Domingo Caal, Jakelin’s grandfather, said she had gone on the journey because she did not want to leave her father. 

 

“The girl really stuck to him. It was very difficult to separate them,” said Domingo, 61, wearing muddy boots and a faded and torn blue shirt.  

Jakelin’s uncle, Jose Manuel Caal, said he had heard she was ill before she died, but he had expected her to recover. “The girl’s death left us in shock,” he said. 

 

The family hopes the girl’s father can remain in the United States. 

 

“What I want now is for Nery to stay and work in the United States. That’s what I want,” said his wife. 

 

A Guatemalan consular official told Reuters on Friday that Caal told him he had crossed the border planning to turn himself in to U.S. authorities, and would try to stay. 

 

Record numbers of parents traveling with children are being apprehended trying to cross the U.S. border with Mexico. In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers detained 25,172 members of “family units,” the highest monthly number ever recorded, the agency said. 

 

Parents with children are more likely to be released by U.S. authorities while their cases are processed because of legal restrictions on keeping children in detention. 

 

Caal remains in the El Paso, Texas, area, where his daughter died after being flown by helicopter to a hospital there for emergency treatment when she stopped breathing. 

 

A brain scan revealed swelling and Jakelin was diagnosed with liver failure. She died early in the morning on Dec. 8, with her father at the hospital, a CBP official said. 

 

U.S. authorities are investigating the death.  

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