Trump appointee Kirstjen Nielsen actually tries to blame 'open borders' for the deaths of kids in her agency's care

Trump appointee Kirstjen Nielsen actually tries to blame 'open borders' for the deaths of kids in her agency's care
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump's Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that "open borders" advocates and the kids' "own parents"—not Trump's inhumane treatment of immigrants—are to blame.


"Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders," Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in U.S. custody on Christmas day. "Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north."

Nielsen, who signed off on the Trump administration's internationally condemnedfamily separation policy, was immediately denounced for attempting to deflect attention and blame away from the White House's anti-immigrant agenda.

In a statement on Wednesday, National Nurses United (NNU) pinned the deaths of the two young children on Trump's treatment of asylum-seekers fleeing violence and persecution as "criminals."

"Nurses, whose life work is to protect and heal, are appalled at the lack of humane treatment for vulnerable children, and their families, who are seeking refuge and safety in the U.S.," said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU, in a statement on Wednesday. "Our government must stop treating these families, and their children as criminals. The imagery of a migrant child dying on Christmas day is especially disturbing, but we need a policy of caring and compassion every day."

Castillo concluded that the Trump administration must "immediately end its practice of warehousing families and children in the 'hierleras,' make sure that all the families and children are provided safe and secure conditions while being considered for asylum, and guarantee that medical professionals are fully available to provide the ongoing professional medical assessment and needed care and support for them."

As Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will now order medical checks for all minors in its custody.

In response, critics immediately demanded to know why it took at least two deaths in a single month for CBP to order such basic medical examinations—and why young children are being detained in the first place.

"Why are they jailing children under ten?" asked Scott Hechinger, senior staff attorney and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.