- President Trump blamed Democrats for the December deaths of two children that were in CBP custody.
- One child was held in CBP custody longer than allowed by CBP rules, and the other child wasn’t given medical treatment until 90 minutes after she began showing symptoms.
- Trump’s Homeland Security secretary also blamed larger immigration policies for the deaths.
President Trump took to Twitter Saturday to respond to multiple deaths of migrant children held in US custody in the last month.
Trump focused on immigration policy as the problem, writing:
Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try! The two children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol. The father of the young girl said it was not their fault, he hadn’t given her water in days. Border Patrol needs the Wall and it will all end. They are working so hard & getting so little credit!
On Christmas Eve, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo from Guatemala died after he was detained for almost a full week between three different facilities — longer than is allowed according to Customs and Border Protection rules. As a result of the death, CBP said it would review its child detention policies, a consideration that did not make it into Trump’s tweets.
Alonzo reportedly tested positive for influenza B, but according to CBP only began showing symptoms the morning of his death. That afternoon, he was taken to a hospital and treated before being taken back to a CBP facility where he was held for further medical treatment. CBP claims that the boy began vomiting, but his father declined further treatment. That evening, CBP officers took Alonzo to the hospital again, after he became lethargic, where he died.
The incident came after the December 7 death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, who perished in CBP custody. The Guatemalan migrant reportedly waited 90 minutes after she first began showing symptoms to get medical treatment. The girl’s father has since contradicted CBP’s timeline of events, saying that agents didn’t give either of them food or water. Her father’s attorneys also dispute a form that he signed that has been referenced by CBP which says Maquin was in good health. It was reportedly given to her father in English, a language which he doesn’t speak.
On Wednesday, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on blamed larger forces as well, saying the deaths were a result of “a system that prevents parents who bring their children on a dangerous illegal journey from facing consequences for their actions.”