WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump twisted circumstances behind the deaths of two migrant Guatemalan children to insulate his administration from any blame, contending without justification that they were in dire health before they reached the border.
The children cleared initial U.S. health screenings and one of them was in the U.S. for five days before suddenly showing signs of illness.
His tweets on the deaths in U.S. custody of a 7-year-old girl and an 8-year old boy were his first words on the subject and came with no expression of remorse for what happened. Instead he said their fate shows why the U.S. needs a wall at the Mexican border.
Trump addressed the matter during a week in which he also misrepresented what he’s done for military pay in a speech to troops in Iraq and told a faulty story about the Iran nuclear deal.
A look at some of his statements and the reality behind them:
TRUMP: “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. Border Patrol needs the Wall and it will all end.” — tweets Saturday.
THE FACTS: This account is not supported by timelines released by Customs and Border Protection or other sources.
As well, Trump is wrong in saying the father of the girl who died has absolved U.S. officials of responsibility. Through family lawyers, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz said he made sure his daughter Jakelin had food and water as they traveled through Mexico. The Border Protection timeline on her case says: “The initial screening revealed no evidence of health issues.” And nothing was mentioned about the girl being dehydrated.
The record so far neither establishes that U.S. officials were to blame for the children’s deaths nor clears them of blame, despite Trump’s pronouncement. All the facts are not known, but he rendered what is known inaccurately.
Circumstances are laid out in the Customs and Border Protection accounts of the capture, treatment and deaths of Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo , 8, who both came to the border with their fathers:
When Jakelin Caal and her father were caught the evening of Dec. 6, her father described her as in good health and no illness was observed by agents. It’s possible father and daughter did not acknowledge an illness. The next morning, she vomited on a bus waiting to take them to a Border Patrol station, then stopped breathing. Twice revived by Border Patrol personnel, she was then flown by helicopter to an El Paso, Texas, trauma center, went into cardiac arrest and was revived once more. She died Dec. 8 at 12:35 a.m.