President Donald Trump on Saturday said the deaths of migrant children at the border are “strictly the fault of the Democrats” after two children in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection died in recent weeks.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!”
An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died on Christmas Eve at the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about 90 miles north of the border crossing in El Paso, Texas.
The boy – who Rep. Joaquin Castro, chairman-elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, identified as Felipe Gomez Alonzo – was taken to the hospital on Monday after a border agent noticed signs of illness, and according to a CBP news release, “The child was held for an additional 90 minutes for observation and then released from the hospital mid-afternoon on December 24 with prescriptions for amoxicillin and Ibuprofen.”
Later that day, the boy began vomiting and was taken back to the hospital for evaluation. He died hours later, CBP said.
Trump’s tweets come as Democrats and Republicans look for a solution to end the partial government shutdown that is now expected to extend into the new year. The two sides appear to be at an impasse over Trump’s demand to include funding for a border wall in the legislation.
Earlier this month, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died after she began vomiting and stopped breathing while in Border Patrol custody. The girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, later went into cardiac arrest and suffered brain swelling at a Texas hospital.
Trump said on Twitter that both children who died “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,” Trump continued. “Border Patrol needs the Wall and it will all end. They are working so hard & getting so little credit!”
However, lawyers for the girl’s father clarified reports attributed to Homeland Security that has said Jakelin had not eaten or had any water for several days while crossing the desert before the border patrol took her into custody.
“Jakelin’s father took care of Jakelin – made sure she was fed and had sufficient water,” the statement said. “She had not suffered from a lack of water or food prior to approaching the border.”
Following the death of the boy, CBP announced they would be implementing additional precautions, including secondary medical checks on all children in CBP care and custody with a particular focus on children under 10, among other steps.
Trump tweeted again on Saturday – this time about the border wall, writing that they have resorted to the “hard way” for getting approval to build the wall.
“For those that naively ask why didn’t the Republicans get approval to build the Wall over the last year, it is because IN THE SENATE WE NEED 10 DEMOCRAT VOTES, and they will gives us ‘NONE’ for Border Security! Now we have to do it the hard way, with a Shutdown. Too bad! @FoxNews,” he tweeted.
CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin, Ray Sanchez, Ed Lavandera and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.