The mother of the 1-year-old girl who died shortly after being released from an immigrant detention center has filed a legal claim seeking $60 million from multiple agencies the US government, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Yazmin Juarez, the mother, is blaming the death of her daughter on a failure of the government to provide necessary medical care when the baby became ill while in custody.
According to CBS and Juarez’s lawyers, 1-year-old Mariee developed a respiratory infection while she and her mother were being held in the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. During their detention, Mariee developed a cough and congestion, then a fever which spiked up to over 104 degrees multiple times. After they were released, mother and child traveled to Philadelphia, where Mariee died six weeks later.
R. Stanton Jones of the Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter says the US government has six months to settle before the firm files a lawsuit.
“Having made the decision to jail small children, the U.S. government is responsible to provide living conditions that are safe, sanitary and appropriate,” he said.
Immigrant rights activists had been complaining about the conditions at the South Texas Family Residential Center for years before Mairee died, claiming that the medical care is substandard. According to CNN, Juarez’s lawyers said her daughter was given only Tylenol by the detention center after being diagnosed with an acute upper respiratory infection. However, her symptoms only became worse.
During three weeks of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss, Juarez sought medical care for her daughter several times, receiving various diagnoses but without improvement.
“After it became clear that Mariee was gravely ill, ICE simply discharged mother and daughter,” said Juarez’s lawyers. “Yazmin immediately sought medical care for her baby, but it was too late. Mariee died following six agonizing weeks in the hospital after leaving Dilley.”
The legal claim alleges that baby Mariee died because she caught an illness in unsanitary conditions and received inadequate medical attention.
Juarez and her legal team have also filed a similar claim for $40 million against the city of Eloy, Arizona, which is responsible for the operations of the Texas detention center.
ICE has repeatedly insisted that the health care in their facilities is appropriate and that the agency takes the issue of detainee health very seriously.
“ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care,” the agency said in a statement in August. “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody.”