Child’s death highlights communication barriers on border

Shortly before a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died in U.S. custody, her father signed a form stating that his daughter was in good health.

But it’s unclear how much the man understood on the form, which was written in English and read to him in Spanish by Border Patrol agents.

The death of Jakelin Caal in Texas highlights the communication challenges along the U.S.-Mexico border as agents come in contact with an increasing number of migrants who speak neither English nor Spanish.

Her father’s native language is the Mayan tongue known as Q’eqchi’. His second language is Spanish. It’s unclear whether something was lost in translation or whether it would have made a difference in saving Jakelin. The case raises questions about the Border Patrol’s use of English-only forms.