Laura Seitz, KSL

Chaffetz: Message for migrants should be ‘don’t make this journey, it will kill you’

By Jacob Klopfenstein, | Posted - Dec. 16, 2018 at 3:40 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — After a 7-year-old migrant girl died this week following her trek to the United States, former Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz says the message to other migrants thinking about making the same trip should be “Don’t make this journey; it will kill you.”

Chaffetz, who represented Utah’s 3rd Congressional District from 2009 to 2017, made the comment on Fox News on Friday evening during a panel discussion.

“Look, the sad reality is we have a 7-year-old girl who has died, and she should have never, ever made that journey,” Chaffetz said. “And that should be the message: Don’t make this journey; it will kill you, and that should be the message.”

In a year where immigration, border walls and migrant caravans made headlines, Chaffetz' comments sounded among the many seeking greater border control, including those from Utah's congressional delegation.

Chaffetz was speaking about the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin. The girl and her father, 29-year-old Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, made the journey from Guatemala to the United States, and crossed the border near Antelope Wells, New Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

The pair were intercepted Dec. 6, along with a group of other migrants by border patrol agents, and taken to a "forward operating base," where there was food and water, but no medical aid, according to The Associated Press. A form, signed by her father, indicated her health was fine when she left the facility.

Later, Jakelin was on a bus to the nearest Border Patrol station, but she got sick and stopped breathing by the end of the ride. She was taken to a Texas hospital where she died on Dec. 8.

Chaffetz’s quote surfaced after a Twitter user posted the clip Friday and it made the rounds on social media.

He was acting as guest host on Sean Hannity’s show on the network, according to The Hill. Chaffetz also said would-be migrants should stay in their countries of origin, go to foreign embassies there and apply for visas to other countries, according to The Hill.

Chaffetz hasn’t made further comments on social media about his Friday statements.

Though many Central American migrants apply for asylum upon reaching the U.S. border, that wasn’t the plan for Jakelin — her father had paid a human smuggler to sneak them across the border.

Jakelin's death and Chaffetz' comments both come a week ahead of a possible government shutdown Friday that in large part relates to a dispute over border security funding. With the looming shutdown deadline in mind, here are some examples of what Utah’s current congressional delegation — as well those who are incoming — have said recently about immigration.

Sen. Orrin Hatch

Sen. Mike Lee

Sen.-elect Mitt Romney

Rep. Rob Bishop

Congressional District 1

Rep. Chris Stewart

Congressional District 2

Rep. John Curtis

Congressional District 3

Rep. Mia Love

Congressional District 4

Rep.-elect Ben McAdams

Congressional District 4

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