Trump Doles Out Blame in Migrant Child Deaths

As Kirstjen Nielsen visits medical staff in Arizona
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 29, 2018 2:29 PM CST
DHS Chief: Border Crisis Isn't My Fault
This Dec, 12, 2018 photo provided by Catarina Gomez on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, shows her half-brother Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, near her home in Yalambojoch, Guatemala.   (Catarina Gomez via AP)

President Trump deflected any blame from his administration for the deaths of two Guatemalan children this month in US government custody as his Homeland Security chief visited Border Patrol medical officials amid promises of more thorough health screenings for migrant children, the AP reports. Instead, the president, whose administration has faced widespread criticism over the deaths, pointed the finger at Democrats "and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally." They were his first comments on the deaths. He also tweeted that the children were "very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol." The president's comments came Saturday afternoon, the same day Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was in Yuma, Arizona, to meet with medical staff at the border.

Nielsen says in a statement that "the system is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis." She called on Congress to "act with urgency." Her office says she was briefed in El Paso, Texas, on Friday on "recently instituted secondary medical screenings and the more thorough initial health screenings of migrants." El Paso Mayor Dee Margo says he met with Nielsen and agreed with her that the immigration policy is "broken." Nielsen's trip came days after the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Felipe was the second Guatemalan child to die in government custody in three weeks. A 7-year-old girl died in El Paso earlier this month. (Read about tensions between some migrants and the caravan leaders.)

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