Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
(CNN)Speaker Nancy Pelosi made headlines — and outraged Donald Trump — this week by declaring that, “We believe that the President of The United States is engaged in a cover-up.” In this case, Pelosi was speaking of Trump’s stonewalling of requests by House Democrats for information, such as his tax returns.
Mother of 10-year-old who died in US custody says daughter was born with a heart murmurBut there’s potentially an even more appalling cover-up by Trump — or by some in his administration — that concerns the death of a 10-year-old migrant girl just five weeks before the November 2018 midterm elections that the Trump administration didn’t reveal at the time to the American public. In fact, we only learned about the death of 10-year-old Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, a migrant from El Salvador, this past week thanks to an investigation by CBS News. As CBS reported, and the Trump administration has now confirmed, this young girl died on September 29, 2018, of “a fever and respiratory distress” after complications from surgery that left her in a coma. A Health and Human Services spokesperson said that she had a history of congenital heart defects and was in a “medically fragile” state when she came into US custody. Six migrant children have died in US custody, or soon after being released, since September 2018. In contrast, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement that the Department of Homeland Security, Darlyn was the first migrant child to die in federal custody since 2010. Her death poses a few vitally important questions: Has the Trump administration failed to inform us of other migrant children who have died in US custody? How do we prevent these deaths in the future? And why did Trump and his officials not reveal Darlyn’s death to the American public for nearly eight months?This last question is not just about politics but potentially about life and death as well. HHS has said that reporting requirements don’t mandate they tell the media of such deaths, as reasoning for why it was not reported sooner. But there’s no doubt that if we learned about Darlyn’s death in September 2018, it would’ve made headlines as the first migrant child death in US custody in years. Would that media coverage have resulted in US Border Patrol, and others caring for these children, to change their procedures for the better, possibly saving the lives of the two young migrant children, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, who died just two months later? We will never know that.Read MoreCBP identifies 10-year-old girl who died in US custody in SeptemberAnd we need to know if Darlyn’s death was intentionally kept from us in September by Trump or his administration because they knew such news only five weeks before the midterm elections could have adversely impacted the GOP. Keep in mind Trump’s closing sales pitch in the last months of the 2018 campaign was that the migrants posed a threat to America and only the GOP could keep us safe.For example, Trump dubbed the people in the caravan of people approaching our southern border an “invasion” that included “some very bad thugs and gang members.” And Trump’s October 22, 2018 tweet shortly before the midterms said point blank to “blame the Democrats” for the caravans of migrants trying to enter the country “illegally,” adding, “Remember the Midterms!”Just imagine if in the closing weeks of the midterm election we learned about the death of a 10-year-old, innocent girl. It would’ve required Trump and his regime to answer questions about this child’s death, likely undermining or at least distracting from Trump’s mantra that migrants are a grave threat to our country. Could this have tipped some more House seats — or even control of the Senate — in the direction of the Democrats?Stay up to date…
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Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro was absolutely right when, upon hearing the news of Darlyn’s death on Wednesday, he declared, “It’s outrageous that another child has died in government custody and that the Trump administration didn’t tell anybody.” Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, added, “They covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured.” It’s now time for House Democrats to hold hearings to determine if the Trump administration has failed to inform us about other migrant children who died in US custody and come up with ways to ensure it never happens again. And, secondly, they must look into whether Trump or his administration ordered the information of Darlyn’s death to be concealed from the American people. If that turns out to be the case, this very well could end up being a cover-up far worse than anything we’ve seen from Trump before.