House Democrats ordered Homeland Security officials to preserve all “evidence” related to the two deaths this month of Guatemalan children who jumped the U.S.-Mexico border with their parents, signaling the beginning of an investigation next year.
The Democrats asked for medical records, surveillance videos and logs of interactions between Border Patrol agents and the children to be kept for handover in the future — presumably after Democrats take control of the House and gain powers to oversee investigations.
Signing the order were the top Democrats on the House Judiciary, Oversight and Homeland Security committees.
“After the new Congress begins next week, our committees in the House of Representatives will hold hearings and conduct oversight of the two deaths that occurred earlier this month, as well as the conditions under which thousands of children are being held in DHS custody,” the lawmakers said.
An 8-year-old boy died on Christmas Eve after six days in Border Patrol custody. Felipe Gomez Alonzo had been treated for a cold and fever at a hospital and was released, only to be readmitted hours later — and died soon thereafter.
His mother, still back in Guatemala, said the boy’s father brought the youngster on the trip because they figured he’d have an easier chance of gaming the American immigration system to gain an illegal foothold here.
The woman, in an interview with the Reuters news service, said neighbors had told the family that taking a child along would provide a way in.
“Lots of them have gone with children and managed to cross, even if they’re held for a month or two. But they always manage to get across easily,” she told Reuters.
Earlier this month a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl fell ill hours after being arrested crossing the border illegally with her father. Border Patrol agents twice managed to revive her, but she later suffered a heart attack and liver and respiratory failure at a hospital and died.