So, in these conditions, it's to be expected that children are going to get sick. And that's what we saw with Jakelin Caal in the beginning of December, that she presented dehydration symptoms, that she presented fever -- feverish -- a fever, a very high fever. And she had been in the Border Patrol custody for several hours, almost nine hours, before she finally expired.
Felipe Alonso [Gómez] was apprehended close by here in El Paso, just a few miles outside our community, and yet he was taken from here to a Border Patrol checkpoint, a highway checkpoint, about a hundred miles away, in Alamogordo. Now, why that's unacceptable is because children are not supposed to be in Border Patrol checkpoints on the highway. Those facilities are not appropriate for children. I hope that that did not contribute to his sickness. I hope that that did not contribute to his death. But we should not be holding children and families in these conditions.
This has been going on for a long time. Unfortunately, I think this was to be expected. It's unfortunate that we've got to the point where there have been the deaths of two children before the government is starting to act. It's sad that it had to come to this. But we need institutional reform now. We need actions on the part of CBP to guarantee the safety and security of the families and children in their custody.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, on December 20th, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was grilled at a heated congressional hearing about the Trump administration's border and immigration policies. She was questioned by Democratic Congressmembers David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Hank Johnson of Georgia.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: How many children 17 years old or younger have died in DHS, ICE or CBP custody since you took office?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: I will get back to you on that figure. What I can tell you is that we have saved 4,200 migrants who were at distress due to their journey.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Well, approximately, how many have died in custody?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: I understand your question, sir. I will get back to you.
REP. HANK JOHNSON: Can you give me an approximate figure?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: I will get back to you; I'm not going to guess under oath.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE: As you sit here today, you do not know how many human beings have died while in the custody of the department that you lead. And you -- in preparation for today's hearing, you didn't ascertain that number. But you don't know it today?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: I don't have an exact figure for you.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE: Do you have a rough idea?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: Sir, what I can tell you is
REP. DAVID CICILLINE: I'm talking about people who have died in your custody. You don't have the number?
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN: I will get back to you with the number.