Torres Small Asks Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, “Do You Know How Many Children Have Died in CBP Custody Under Your Tenure?”

WASHINGTON – Immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Trump administration are dying at virtually the same rate as they did during the Obama administration.

During former President Barack Obama’s first year in office, 10 foreign nationals died in ICE custody. Five passed away in 2012, and 12 died in 2016, according to ICE data obtained by the Washington Examiner. The numbers are not far removed from President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.

Ten detainees died in 2017 and 12 died in 2018, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. There have been no reported deaths in fiscal year 2019 as of March 5.

Not only are current deaths on par with the Obama administration, but they remain far lower than the numbers from about 15 years ago. Thirty-two people died in calendar year 2004, and 20 died in 2005. A far larger number of foreign nationals were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border during the 1990’s and early 2000s, which led to more immigrants being detained than is currently the case.

The data contradicts a narrative pushed by many Democrats that the current administration is less humane to foreign nationals that are caught trying to enter the country illegally.


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“Madam Secretary, do you know how many children have died in CBP custody under your tenure as secretary?” New Mexico Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small asked Wednesday during a House congressional committee hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “Can you give me the numbers and how many children have died?”

While speaking at a town hall in January regarding immigration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed Trump’s tenure was “a departure” from all modern presidencies, and blamed the deaths of two migrant children who died in custody on a lack of proper medical care.

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