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Democrat Beto O'Rourke blames border wall in migrant deaths


Says deaths increasing even while attempts to cross are decreasing


Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) says he believes the border wall between United States and Mexico is responsible for the death of migrants who are trying to breach it and gain entry into the U.S.

What did he say?

O'Rourke said during a town hall meeting in El Paso, Texas, that the border wall in the city forces migrants to take other, more treacherous routes across the desert to get into the U.S., the Washington Examiner reported.

"The number of people dying at the U.S.-Mexico border in some years has grown, and in some years has grown because it's connected to that wall that we have already built that pushes people who are at their most desperate and vulnerable to ever-more inhospitable stretches of the Chihuahua Desert," O'Rourke said.

According to O'Rourke, 263 people died while trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico in 1998. That figure grew to 365 by 2010 after the barrier near El Paso was nearly completed.

"The wall in this area was built in 2006, 2007, and 2008," he said. "So even though total crossing attempts had decreased, the number of deaths went up."

His comments follow a recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that a 7-year-old migrant girl from Guatemala who died after attempting to cross the border. Border Patrol took custody of the girl and her father, who told agents the child had nothing to eat or drink for days. The girl, who was air-flighted to a hospital, was dehydrated and had a temperature of 105.7.

Democrats have already demanded an investigation into her death.

What else has he said?

O'Rourke is one of many Democrats who have opposed President Donald Trump's plan to spend $5 billion to expand the border wall. During the town hall meeting O'Rourke pledged to vote against attempts to fund the wall. He called the wall an "expression of our smallness."

In November, O'Rourke lost to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) in a bid to take-over the Republican's Senate seat. O'Rourke has also discussed the possibility of running for president in 2020.

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