US President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed opposition Democrats for the death of two immigrant children in US custody.
“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 said on Twitter.
His comments came after the separate deaths of two Guatemalan children, aged seven and eight, who crossed the border illegally with relatives who were taken into custody by US Border Patrol.
The tweet hardened Trump’s tone after an earlier message on Twitter that said the next move in the eight-day budget standoff over border wall funding belonged to the Democrats.
One Democratic representative, Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania, said in a tweet posted by his staff that Trump was “reaching new lows with these ridiculous tweets. His administration is the cause of pain and suffering that is taking place at the border. Nothing that he says will alter this truth.”
Others called the Trump tweets “disturbing” and pointed out that US immigration policies have been in place for years without children dying in government custody.
Eight-year-old Felipe Gomez, who collapsed after running a fever, died in US custody after traveling with his father Agustin Gomez from an indigenous community in Guatemala.
He died on the same day that Jakelin Caal, a Guatemalan girl who died in US custody under similar circumstances earlier this month, was buried back in her home village.
In the last two months, US Border Patrol agents have apprehended 139,817 people on the southwest border, compared with 74,946 during the same period a year earlier, Nielsen said.
More than 68,500 were “family units” while almost 14,000 others were unaccompanied children, she said, and the system has been pushed to the “breaking point.”
When the shutdown began on December 22, affecting a quarter of the federal government, Trump vowed to remain at the White House.
But as he tries to build pressure on Democrats they appear adamant in their refusal to pay for a project they view as a waste of money.
Some conservative Republicans, meanwhile, appear equally determined to press for the wall.
Trump has demanded $5 billion for wall construction while Democrats have offered to spend no more than $1.3 billion for security measures not including a wall.