WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley will return to the southern border on Monday to investigate the death of an eight-year-old child in U.S. custody.
The death of Felipe Alonzo-Gomez on Christmas Day follows another death only a few weeks prior, of seven-year-old Jakelin Caal.
“The death of any child is a tragedy,” said Merkley. “As a parent, I can’t imagine the heartbreak of fleeing to a new country, only to watch your child die just at the moment you thought you had reached safety. We need full transparency and full accountability for these deaths, which is why I’m going back to the border to get answers.”
Merkley will visit the remote Alamogordo Border Patrol Station in New Mexico with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Merkley will ask questions directly of Border Patrol and Trump Administration staff to find out more about the circumstances surrounding Felipe’s death and whether enough is being done to prevent more tragedies along the border.
On June 3, Merkley set off a national firestorm when he went to the border to personally investigate the Administration’s child separation policy and was turned away from a children’s detention center in Brownsville, Texas. Merkley pressured the Trump administration to back down from this cruel policy of separating children from their parents, but the Administration has been determined to keep pursuing policies that inflict trauma on children and families fleeing persecution abroad.
In December, Merkley visited Texas to inspect family internment camps and a children’s tent prison where the Administration is locking up children seeking asylum. After speaking out against what he saw and introducing legislation to shut down the child tent prison, Tornillo, the contractors running Tornillo announced in late December that they would stop accepting new children and aim to shut down Tornillo before the end of January.