In the media blame game that took place after two migrant children died in Border Patrol custody during the month of December, several commentators on MSNBC pointed their fingers at President Donald Trump.
With variations among individuals, the common theme, as documented by the Media Research Center, was that families were forced to take perilous and dangerous routes to enter the United States illegally because Trump is strictly enforcing immigration laws.
Last week, Felix Gomez Alonzo, 8, of Guatemala died while in federal custody. Earlier in December, Jakelin Caal, 7, also of Guatemala, died after she and her father attempted to cross the border illegally.
On Wednesday, MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar indicted Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“When they decided that they were going to start closing ports of entry — when they were going to teargas families trying to go through the legal channels — she and the president forced individuals to go and make more dangerous areas to cross the border,” Kumar said on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
During Sunday’s “Up with David Gura” show on MSNBC, guest Matt Welch of Reason magazine blamed outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, formerly head of DHS, along with Trump.
“John Kelly was part of the decision-making architecture to reduce the number of refugees that we’re taking inside this country,” Welch said. “When you don’t allow people to come in — when you cut the number of legal immigrants who are allowed to come in, what’s that going to do?
“And you — illegally in my view — turn them down for asylum applications when they go through legal checkpoints here — points of entry — that’s what you’re supposed to do — show up, knock on the door. ‘Can I come in, please?’ ‘No, go to the desert.’ What do you think is going to happen? People are going to die in the desert — they’re going to die in ice boxes.”
Nielsen has responded to the round of blame by repeatedly warning parents of those who try to enter the country illegally that they are putting the lives of their children at risk.
“Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders,” Nielsen said in a statement last week, according to Politico. “Smugglers, traffickers and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley made a similar point earlier in December while speaking to reporters.
“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country?“ he said, according to Politico. “No.”
Gidley called Caal’s death “a needless death, and it’s 100 percent preventable.”
“If we could just come together and pass some common sense laws to disincentivize people from coming up from the border and encourage them to do it the right way, the legal way, then those types of deaths, those types of assaults, those types of rapes, the child smuggling, the human trafficking that would all come to an end. And we hope Democrats join the president,” he said.
Nielsen noted that in the case of Caal, “This family chose to cross illegally.”
“They were about 90 miles away from where we could process them. It took a such a large crowd, it took our Border Patrol folks a couple times to get them all,” she said. “We cannot stress how dangerous the journey is when migrants come illegally.”
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