Top Democrat: Deaths of migrant children in US custody ‘unacceptable, un-American, and unconscionable’

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that the deaths of two migrant children in federal custody were "unacceptable, un-American, and unconscionable."

Jeffries, who last month was elected Democratic caucus chairman, made the comments on ABC's "This Week" while talking about border security and what Congress can do help officials working in the region. 

"We certainly want to enhance the ability of our officials at the southwest border to conduct themselves in a humane fashion and to avoid the type of tragedies that occurred with Jakelin and Felipe," Jeffries said, referring to 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo and 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin. 

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"That was unacceptable, un-American, and unconscionable, and we need to do better."

Asked if he thinks the federal government bears any of the blame, Jeffries responded that that the "Trump administration bears blame to the extent that the buck stops at the top."

Gómez died in Customs and Border Protection custody on Dec. 24 after being transferred to a hospital for flu-like symptoms, high fever and vomiting. Caal died earlier this month from dehydration and shock.

The Department of Homeland Security said last week that it would change how it handles the health of migrant children. Democratic lawmakers in the House have also vowed to launch investigations into the deaths when they take a majority in Congress. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE on Saturday tweeted that "any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally."

"If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!" he added, referring to his demand for a border wall along the southern border, which led to a government shutdown earlier this month. 

Democrats take the House majority on Jan. 3, when the new Congress is sworn in.