The two top House Democrats said on Wednesday that Democrats will hold hearings in the next Congress on the deaths of migrant children after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez became the second migrant child to die this month at the border.
Calling the deaths of Alonzo-Gomez and Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin “unconscionable,” House Minority Leader and Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats will investigate their deaths in the next Congress.
“Democrats call on Homeland Security’s Inspector General to immediately open an investigation into Felipe [Alonzo-Gomez’s] death,” Pelosi said. “The Congress will also investigate this tragedy and the heartbreaking death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, to seek justice and ensure that no other child is left to such a fate.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who will be the next Majority Leader, said “it is incumbent upon Congress to ask serious questions about what happened and who bears responsibility.”
“After the new Democratic Majority begins, the House will hold hearings on this young boy’s death and the death of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal earlier this month – as well as the conditions under which thousands of children are being held,” Hoyer said. “I pray for comfort for the families of these children who lost their lives, and I urge the Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with all the information the public deserves to know and to take action to prevent such tragedies from recurring.”
Hoyer added that “House Democrats will not stand idly by and watch as our nation’s most fundamental values are eroded, while innocent children are held like prisoners in cages and their lives placed at risk.”
Hoyer also thanked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for leading a delegation to New Mexico earlier in the month.
On Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called on incoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to follow the House and schedule hearings in the next Congress.
“These heartbreaking incidents are sadly consistent with previous reports of widespread abuse of children in immigration custody and the judgement of medical and mental health organizations that Border Patrol facilities are not adequately staffed or equipped to properly care for children,” Feinstein wrote. “Our committee is uniquely situated to examine these issues and I hope we can schedule a hearing immediately in the new year.”
Some Democrats have suggested that Trump should be impeached for the way in which his administration has treated migrants.
Rep. Al Green (D-TX), arguably the most vocal impeachment advocate, went with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to New Mexico and suggested that Trump should be impeached for treating migrants worse than animals.
After his trip to the border, Green last week said that Trump’s border policies “reinforced” his belief that Trump should be impeached for treating migrants worse than animals.
Green went to the border with other Democrats to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of Caal Maquin, a Guatemalan girl who died after crossing the border in New Mexico.
“I visited the border on Tuesday and saw the effects of bigotry firsthand. I saw people housed in circumstances the [American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] would find deplorable for animals,” Green tweeted last week. “My visit reinforced my belief that #ImpeachmentIsNotDead.”
I visited the border on Tuesday and saw the effects of bigotry firsthand. I saw people housed in circumstances the ASPCA would find deplorable for animals. My visit reinforced my belief that #ImpeachmentIsNotDead.#JusticeForJakelin
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) December 20, 2018
Green made similar remarks after he toured Antelope Wells and the Border Patrol’s Bounds Forward Operating Base in New Mexico. The delegation, according to the Albuquerque Journal, reportedly “re-traced Jakelin Caal Maquin’s final steps, starting in the remote area where she and her father crossed the border with a 163 other migrants near the Antelope Wells port of entry in New Mexico’s bootheel.”
“The (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) would not allow animals to be treated the way human beings are treated in this facility,” Green reportedly told reporters.
He also added that “there are two sets of victims in this facility. The women and children who are here being processed and the officers that are having to process them.”
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said there is a “water contamination issue” at the New Mexico facilities and spoke about “inhumane holding cells, where we saw children with adults in overcrowded facilities with a shared toilet, completely open.”
Earlier in the year, Green said that he could bring articles of impeachment against Trump for policies “rooted in bigotry.” Green specifically cited Trump’s border policies.
“You produce a policy that separates [illegal immigrant children] from their parents. When I add all of this together, a person who is placing his bigotry into policy that is harmful to our society,” Green said at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, as Breitbart News reported. “And for that he ought to be impeached.”