House hearing grows heated over migrant children’s deaths
WASHINGTON – A Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration’s border policies for the deaths of migrant children, an accusation the acting head of the Homeland Security Department called “appalling.”
The brouhaha came at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the budget for the sprawling law enforcement department, which has seen major upheaval over the past two months following a White House-orchestrated shake-up.
Kevin McAleenan, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was named to lead the department temporarily following the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
At the hearing, Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., questioned McAleenan about what he knew of the psychological problems migrant children face when they are separated from their parents. Last year, the administration separated more than 2,500 children from parents as part of a policy to prosecute anyone caught crossing into the United States illegally, but that practice was stopped.
Border agents are still allowed to separate children at the U.S.-Mexico border if the adult has a criminal history or there is concern for the health and welfare of the children.
Underwood told McAleenan that “at this point, with five children dead and thousands separated, it’s a policy choice being made by this administration, and it’s inhumane.”