Trump blames deaths of migrant children on Democrats

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Trump lowers his ask for border wall funding

President Trump responded to the recent deaths of two migrant children in U.S. custody for the first time Saturday, blaming Democrats' "pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally."

"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!" Mr. Trump tweeted.

"The two … children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol," he wrote in a second tweet. "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!"

Jakelin Caal, 7, died in government custody earlier this month. Caal's father has denied Customs and Border Patrol's (CBP's) claim that she did not consume food or water days before crossing the border.

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8, who died on Christmas Eve, was apprehended by border patrol agents on December 18, and on December 24, a CBP agent noticed Felipe was coughing and appeared to have "glossy eyes." Thirty minutes later, the Guatemalan boy was transferred to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, alongside his father, according to a timeline of events released by CBP.

Mr. Trump's tweet came as the president and congressional Democrats are deadlocked over funding for a border wall. Mr. Trump has refused to sign any partial government funding bill that does not contain the money he wants to build it. Democrats, meanwhile, are unwilling to spend more than $1.6 billion on the border wall. The partial government shutdown entered its eighth day on Saturday.

Border patrol agents who Mr. Trump says are "getting so little credit" are not receiving pay while the government is shut down, as they are federal employees.

First published on December 29, 2018

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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