Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed Democrats for the deaths of a Salvadoran father and daughter who were found drowned this week along the bank of the Rio Grande River after they tried to illegally cross into the United States.
‘That’s like I’ve been saying. If they fixed the laws, you wouldn’t have that,’ Trump told reporters at the White House before he left for the G20 meeting in Japan.
‘They want to have open borders and open borders mean crime, and open borders mean people drowning in the rivers. And it’s a very dangerous thing,’ he charged.
Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the deaths of a Salvadoran father and daughter
Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramierz with daughter Valeria; the two died trying to cross the Rio Grande to illegally enter the United States
The president said he ‘hated’ the photo of the deceased migrants, which has gone viral across the internet.
‘I hate it, and I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law,’ he said. ‘And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter, things like that wouldn’t happen.’
He said crossing the Rio Grande River, which borders the U.S. and Mexico, is dangerous.
‘People are coming up, they’re running through the Rio Grande,’ he said. ‘It can be a rough river of sorts, I mean, there are times when going across the Rio Grande is very, very dangerous, depending on the time of year and the conditions and the rapidity of the water. And we know that. And we have many, many guards there, but people go through the guards.
‘If we had the right laws, that the Democrats are not letting us have, those people, they wouldn’t be coming up, they wouldn’t be trying,’ he charged, adding ‘they can change it very easily so people don’t come up and people won’t get killed.
And he doubled down on his blame with a tweet before Air Force One took off for Japan.
‘The Democrats should change the Loopholes and Asylum Laws so lives will be saved at our Southern Border. They said it was not a crisis at the Border, that it was all just “manufactured.” Now they admit that I was right – But they must do something about it. Fix the Laws NOW!,’ Trump wrote.
The president pushed back against Democrats who blamed the deaths of the father and daughter on him and who have been protesting outside a detention center in Homestead, Fla., where migrant children are being held separate from their families.
‘Trump is responsible for these deaths,’ Beto O’Rourke wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening, sharing an AP story about the drowning.
Beto O’Rourke blamed Donald Trump for the deaths of a father and daughter who were found drowned earlier this week along a bank of the Rio Grande River
Democrats have expressed outrage over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies since the searing photo went viral
Democrats have expressed outrage over the president’s immigration policies since the searing photo went viral and it’s likely to come up in Wednesday’s first primary debate.
The back-and-forth also comes during a debate in Congress over funding for the border.
On Tuesday night, House Democrats passed a 4.5 billion humanitarian aid that doesn’t allot any funds for border security.
Democratic House leadership was able to secure the money, but only after including strict limitations for what the money could be used for, including improving conditions for the migrants being held after illegally crossing the border.
‘I’m not happy with it because there’s no money for protection,’ the president told Maria Bartiromo in an interview on Fox Business Wednesday morning. ‘It’s like we’re running hospitals over there now!’
The bill ended up passing 230-195 on Tuesday, almost along party lines, and will seek to address the horrific situation migrants are facing when they illegally cross into the U.S., rather than block the flux of immigrants that continuously flow across the border.
It next goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a similar bill with fewer strings attached has bipartisan support. The House-passed bill faced a veto threat from Trump.
Elizabeth Warren rallied with protesters at the Homestead shelter for children on Wednesday
The Homestead shelter for unaccompanied children has become the center of attention as Democrats head to Florida for the first primary debates, and especially after a young father and his daughter died trying to cross illegally into the U.S.
Trump has long blamed the Democrats for the country’s immigration problem – and points out most of the detention centers holding illegal immigrants opened under President Obama while Democrats have punted the blame right back across the aisle toward him.
The picture of the 25-year-old Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, a Salvadoran man, with his black t-shirt hiked up and his 23-month daughter, Valeria, next to him with her arm wrapped around his neck has brought the immigration issue back in the spotlight.
Accompanying the riveting photo were images of Tania, the 21-year-old wife of Martinez, who watched the events unfold as her husband and child attempted to cross the border illegally by swimming across the river in Brownsville, Texas.
Ramirez had brought their daughter safely to the U.S. bank of the river and was going back to help his wife across when Valeria jumped back into the river to follow. Ramirez turned around in route to his wife to help their daughter and that is when they drowned.
Trump’s Democratic rivals are spotlighting the immigration issue with visits to a Child Migration Detention Center in Homestead, Fla., just 30 miles south of Miami where their first debate is taking place.
O’Rourke will be there on Thursday.
Elizabeth Warren visited the center Wednesday morning to talk to protesters who are demanding it be shut down.
‘We are better people than this,’ she said.
Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, 25, left El Salvador with his wife Tania, 21, and their daughter Valeria
Oscar died trying to save his daughter
Two buses full of 40 people each arrived at the center when Warren got there and joined the activists that were already on site. There were about 100 demonstrators in total.
The Massachusetts senator stood on a ladder with Summit, the 8-year-old daughter of a Homestead protester, and waved to children who could be seen walking between different buildings behind the shelter’s fence.
Amy Klobuchar announced she would visit the center Wednesday afternoon ahead of the debate, Rep. Eric Swalwell visited the center on Monday and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s wife, Jane, visited on Wednesday after Warren.
‘We are looking into a camp, a camp of children cruelly confined here,’ Swalwell said when documenting the experience on his social media. ‘They don’t belong here. They belong with their families.’
Warren and O’Rourke were not the only two Democratic presidential contenders to put the blame on Trump.
Cory Booker also blamed the president.
‘We should not look away,’ Booker tweeted Tuesday night about the deaths. ‘These are the consequences of Donald Trump’s inhumane and immoral immigration policy. This is being done in our name.’
Warren arrived at the shelter ahead of Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. She was shown around by Rabbi Robyn Fisher, who has worked on educating the media and public on what is going on in the center
Senator and 2020 contender Cory Booker blamed President Trump for the death of the migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who were attempting to cross by swimming across the Rio Grande
Booker says this happened because of Trump’s ‘inhumane’ immigration policies
A 21-year-old wife and mother watched her 25-year-old husband and young daughter died they attempting to cross into Brownsville, Texas by way of the river
The Homestead center – where nearly 2,500 kids of migrants can be held without their parents and is the largest detention center for children in the country – is about 30 minutes south of the debate stage.
Homestead Shelter for Unaccompanied Children
Can hold up to 2.350 children
It’s the only youth shelter for migrants operated for a profit
The Homestead contract with the Department of Health and Human Services is worth up to $220 million
It opened during the Obama administration, closed briefly and was reopened in March 2018 amid a surge in illegal border crossings
Children between the age of 13-17 are at the shelter, which opened during the Obama administration, closed briefly and was reopened in March 2018 amid a surge in migrants crossing the border.
Border Patrol reported in January that more than 5,000 ‘unaccompanied alien children’ have been apprehended at the border. Most are sent to the Homestead Shelter for Unaccompanied Children or similar facilities throughout the country.
The shelter has stopped letting journalists and visitors inside its doors. Protesters are a regular presence outside its gates, demanding it be shut down.
Critics call it an imprisonment camp or an internment camp.
HHS officials said the average stay is 36 days.
Amy Klobuchar announced she will visit the Homestead shelter Wednesday
Eric Swalwell visited the Homestead detention center on Monday
But court filings – based on a tour of the shelter attorneys conducted in March – paint a different picture.
It describes ‘prison-like’ rules where children can only talk to relatives on the phone for 10 minutes twice a week; showers are limited to five; meal time are 15 minutes. Children are not allowed to hug or touch one another.