In his first public comments on the deaths of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal and eight-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump on Saturday falsely blamed the Democratic Party and Caal’s father—rather than his own inhumane anti-immigrant policy agenda—in an attempt to score political points amid the ongoing government shutdown.
“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!” Trump wrote. “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.”
“If you ever wondered how a person without a heart would act and speak,” Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, wrote in response to Trump’s comments.
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In addition to condemning the president’s tweets as an “absolutely disgusting” display of immorality, commentators were also quick to note the total lack of accuracy of Trump’s outburst, which came as the government shutdown appears set to continue into January with no end in sight.
According to Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an initial health screening of Caal “revealed no evidence of health issues,” contrary to Trump’s evidence-free claim that the “children in question were very sick before they were given over to Border Patrol.”
And contrary to Trump’s claim, Caal’s father never said he “hadn’t given her water for days.”
Trump’s Saturday tweets came just days after DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage by blaming the deaths of the two children on “their own parents” and “open borders” advocates.
“No empathy. No compassion. No sorrow. No regret,” wrote The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan in response to Trump’s tweets. “He doesn’t even pretend to care about the death of two innocent kids. Has there ever been a more heartless, shameless or dysfunctional human being in the Oval Office?”
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