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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Representing the 20th District of Texas

CHC Chair Castro Remarks Following Investigation Into Felipe Gomez Alonzo’s Death

Jan 7, 2019
Press Release

– As Delivered – 

ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO—Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, led a congressional delegation to Alamogordo Border Patrol Station to investigate the circumstances surrounding Felipe Gomez Alonzo’s death. He was joined by Congresswoman Xotchil Torres Small (NM-02); Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR); House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), House Democratic Policy and Communications Chair David Cicilline (RI-01), Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44); Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24); and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Chair Castro said the following remarks at a press conference following their investigation:

“Thank you, Congresswoman Torres Small. I’m Joaquin Castro. I represent the great city of San Antonio in the United States Congress, and I’m also the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. 

“I want to say thank you to the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who have joined us today in Alamogordo on this CODEL. And also to the non-CHC members: Senator Merkley; Jerry Nadler, who chairs the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives; and a member of the Judiciary Committee from Rhode Island, David Cicilline.

“We also want to extend our condolences to the family of Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the eight-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in CBP custody not too long ago. The second death that we know of in recent memory involving CBP, a child in CBP custody.

“There is a humanitarian crisis at our southern border, and the policies of the Trump Administration are making that crisis more tragic. 

“Specifically, the Trump Administration’s policy of metering, or disallowing certain people from presenting themselves for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, at ports of entry, is encouraging and incentivizing desperate people who are fleeing violence, and oppression, to go around to more remote and rural areas of the border, to great danger to themselves, and often to their children. 

“And I believe that’s contributing to more serious injuries, and possibly in these cases, more deaths.

“Today’s visit reaffirmed the fact that the federal government, under the Trump Administration, still has a long way to go in making sure that migrants are treated humanely. That there is proper medical care—personnel, equipment, staff, supplies, all of it—to treat migrants who encounter medical emergencies. 

“It’s true not just for the migrants themselves, but also for the Border Patrol agents—federal employees, employees of the United States government—who are patrolling the border. 

“They are also in danger because of the lack of proper medical care and equipment and supplies and personnel on the part of the federal government and CBP. 

“And so today’s visit, while Congresswoman Torres Small mentioned that Secretary Nielsen’s initiative to get members—medical personnel members—down here represents an improvement, it’s still a long way from where it needs to be.

“I also want to address an announcement that was made by the President, apparently, while we were in our meeting that he will address the nation on border security, and I believe a border wall, on Tuesday night. 

“It would be profoundly inappropriate for the President of the United States to circumvent the legislative branch of the United States government, the United States Congress, and singlehandedly, against the will of the American people and the American Congress, put up a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“We would challenge it in every single way that we could: in Congress, in the courts, and otherwise. And I hope that the President will take a different path. That remains to be seen. 

“But he can expect a strong and swift challenge from all of us, and other members of Congress, and from the American people.

“With that, I’d like to turn it over Senator Jeff Merkley. 

“And before I do, I want to say this about Senator Merkley. In early June, he took the initiative to visit Brownsville, Texas, where he visited two centers, two detention centers, for young kids. 

“At that time he was not allowed in. But the media, because of the attention that came to that, really, that moment, and what was exposed at that time, was pivotal. 

“Pivotal in uncovering the way that so many young people—young migrants who have come to our country seeking asylum, seeking to flee the dangers of their homelands—are treated by our own government. 

“And it’s something that if you go into CBP processing centers, or detention centers, no American would be proud of the way that we’re treating these folks. Senator Merkley”

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.