Following reports that a second migrant child died while in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s care this month, President Donald Trump finally addressed the issue publicly on Saturday, tweeting that Democrats are to blame for any deaths at the southern U.S. border.
“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 began. “They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!”
But the president’s comments are “absurd”, Rolling Stone wrote on Saturday, as it is the government’s handling of its own “zero tolerance” policy that has created such issues at the border.
How many children died in CPB’s custody in the past ten years? Zero, until the Trump administration took the reigns.
It is Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy and restrictions on asylum seekers that is necessitating these children be held at government facilities that are not prepared to hold so many people, especially young children. And because they implemented these policies, the administration should have anticipated a need for medical services for migrants coming across. But only after two children have died is the administration even talking about making changes.
Earlier this week, Nielsen said that the agency “is considering options for surge medical assistance,” which is what it should have done as soon as the policy was implemented. But the Dr. Colleen Kract, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics says that physicians who have visited the facilities where children are held are disturbed by the conditions. “These children are not given the basic needs of food and water and medical care,” she told TIME.
Trump’s CPB Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said on CBS This Morning that no child had died in his agency’s care in “more than a decade”, adding that CPB must take “a different approach” to how it cares for migrant children, Rolling Stone noted.
Democrats, however, are refusing to take the blame and plan to hold hearings investigating the children’s deaths. “[Trump is] just making stuff up again. In January the House of Representatives will hold hearings with witnesses under oath and find out what happened,” Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted in response to the president.