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Baby Dies Weeks After Release From ICE Custody – Do We Need to Reform the Family Detention System?

by Countable | Updated on 8.29.18

What’s the story?

  • A Guatemalan mother is suing ICE, claiming her 19-month-old daughter died shortly after being released from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in south Texas.
  • The news comes as the Trump administration looks to expand its use of detention facilities to house immigrants who cross the border illegally. In June, immigration authorities requested 15,000 additional beds for detained immigrant families.

What’s the backstory?

  • In March, Yazmin Juárez, 20, crossed the Rio Grande with her daughter, Mariee, seeking asylum from violence in Guatemala.
  • Border agents apprehended Juárez and Mariee and transferred them to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
  • Mariee was healthy enough upon arrival to be cleared for detention at Dilley. But one week after arriving, the child developed a cough, congestion, and a fever of over 104 degrees.
  • Juárez's lawyers say medical staff prescribed Tylenol, an antibiotic, and honey, but Mariee's health continued to decline.
"The conditions at Dilley were unsanitary, unsafe and inappropriate for any small child," said R. Stanton Jones, a lawyer at the firm Arnold & Porter, which is representing Juárez.
  • Jones alleges that when Juárez raised concerns about her daughter's deteriorating condition she wasn't taken seriously.
"The medical care that Mariee received in Dilley was neglectful and substandard," Jones said.
  • Legal papers filed Tuesday claim Mariee was still ill when she and her mother were released from Dilley to stay with family in New Jersey. Hours after arrival, Juárez took Mariee to the emergency room. Six weeks later, Mariee died.
"It was unimaginably painful for Yazmin," Jones said.

What is ICE saying?

In an emailed statement to news outlets, ICE said:

"ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency's custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care. Staffing includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician's assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care."

What are medical professionals saying?

  • A pediatrician who reviewed Mariee's medical records disputes ICE's claims, and says the child did not receive adequate care in Dilley.
  • "Nobody at any time decided to actually have a pediatrician or a doctor see the child," said Benard Dreyer, the director of pediatrics at the Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Can we guarantee that if [she] had been sent to the hospital a week earlier, it wouldn't have been too late? I can't guarantee that," Dreyer told NPR. But he adds, "the child was very sick and should have been sent to a hospital."
  • In July, two doctors contracted by the Department of Homeland Security released a scathing assessment of care at Dilley and other family detention centers.
"The threats to health and safety of the children are not merely theoretical," the doctors wrote. Family detention is "an exploitation and an assault on the dignity and health of children and families."

What do you think?

Are you concerned about the medical care children receive at family detention centers? Do you support ICE’s plan to expand the use of the facilities? What should happen to unauthorized immigrants once they cross the border—detainment or monitoring devices? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman


Photo Courtesy Yazmin Juárez

Countable

Written by Countable

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(209)
  • burrkitty
    08/29/2018
    ···

    I’ll trust the assessment of trained practicing pediatricians over ICE officials that thought it was a good idea to give honey to a child under two. So now in addition to trauma and child abuse, we can add negligent homicide to the list of crimes against humanity committed by ICE.

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  • Lisa
    08/29/2018
    ···

    I am enraged- it is beyond rage...there are no words. The thug in the White House and his blind, deaf followers that do not follow the factual news - have blood and death on their hands: Pro- life? Where is the compassion? He is defined by Trampled human rights, Ruined World Friendships , Poor Economics and Environmental havoc -those are his legacies!!! So...I pray that Moderates, Independents and Democrats will unite in November and many November’s after that. No Flag on my lawn will be lowered for him or his mousey followers. Trump is our Hitler wanna be. Only difference is he wants to sell the US to Russia.

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  • Chickie
    08/29/2018
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    Representatives must do everything possible to reform immigration processing. A baby has died. To dismiss this tragedy would make us all complicit in this horrible crime.

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  • Caroline
    08/29/2018
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    It was only a matter of time before this happened, but I’m so sorry it did to this family. I’m outraged, devastated and calling my rep today.

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  • Steve
    Voted Yes
    08/29/2018
    ···

    Disband ICE. Trump's storm troops.

    Like (29)
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  • CIZingaroGrev
    08/29/2018
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    This family and others like them are coming here seeking ASYLUM. Legal or not they are human beings who are asking for help and protection and we are abusing them. This must stop now.

    Like (28)
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  • Cynthia
    08/29/2018
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    What the Hell is Trump gonna do next, pull out a weapon. A baby has now died after his Ice’s supervision. Get rid of this terrible thugster who cares ONLY FOR HIMSELF! I blame him because ONLY HE CAN DO IT! What? No, only he can mess it up, mess with lives, and he can continue to lie about all the things going on. FOR GOD SAKE, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A LEADER FOR ALL OF US. He’s a piece of garbage and is NOT A LEADER, BUT A CRIMINAL AS BAD AS MS-13, in my eyes. He’s not my leader. I respect my presidents normally, but respect and Trump do not belong in the same sentence. I know for this mother: apologies will never be enough since you will NEVER kiss and hug your baby ever again, and I give you my support in blaming Trump. I am so sorry for your loss lady! May God forgive Thug Trump and his crooked posse for their evils!

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  • Katharine
    08/29/2018
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    YES! Don’t separate families! Period! This is horrible and this lies on the shoulders of EVERYONE who doesn’t stand up to Trump!

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  • ManfromNebraska
    08/29/2018
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    The health care we gave was probably ten times better than what they have in Guatemala. The little girl may have already had something seriously wrong before they illegally crossed the border. Check it out but more than likely it wasn’t from the detention center.

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  • Domnkcmo
    Voted Yes
    08/29/2018
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    Your party claims to be the god loving church going party that will bring jesus back to America. If this is true show me in the bible where it says build a wall to keep your neighbors out. Or show me where it says dont feed the poor and dont treat others the way you want to be treated. Because i know in my king James bible you cant find any hateful passages like that instead it says the opposite. When did the Republican party become so broken and racist and disenfranchising.

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  • JTJ
    08/29/2018
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    If she was fleeing violence in Guatemala, why did she drag her kid another 1000+ miles through Mexico to get to the US? These stories are absurd. Secure the border, so stupid people stop risking their children’s lives making the dangerous trip.

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  • AlexandriaGlass
    Voted Yes
    08/29/2018
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    Any system that puts children at harm needs to be reevaluated and updated. There is no excuse for a tragedy like this to occur here in the United States. We have access to the medical care that child needed to stay alive, but instead they chose to do little to nothing to help. Those ICE employees and the doctors who treated her need to be charged. This is appalling and I demand to see justice for these immigrants and all future immigrants who are seeking safe refuge in America. If you are a pro-life individual who holds governmental power (yet does nothing to save children caught this system of abuse) you're a fake and can stop pretending that you want to save lives. You have the ability to do so at this time, please exercise that power.

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  • ConservativeGuy
    08/29/2018
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    Very sad story. I wish the parents hadn’t taken a sick baby on a journey like this.

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  • Mary beth
    Voted Yes
    08/30/2018
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    Separating children from their parents is morally wrong and appalling. I cannot imagine the mental anguish that both children and their parents endure. There are still children not united with their families. All efforts should be front and center to reunite them.

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  • Kit
    Voted Yes
    08/30/2018
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    People have a right to seek asylum and should not be imprisoned for it. Further, separating children from their families is beyond disgraceful. It is illegal to kidnap children from their families.

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  • Richard
    08/30/2018
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    Yes and hold those in trumphouse responsible for such human rights violations.

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  • Lynnie
    08/30/2018
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    So many things here. This young mother fled the violence of her home country, trying to provide a safer life for her young child. Instead of providing the asylum they sought, they were packed into a detention center in substandard and unhealthy conditions and treated like animals. The child was assessed on arrival and was HEALTHY~ a week later, she was gravely ill with a severe URI and high fever. According to peer review of the medical documentation by two other doctors, she received INADEQUATE care and was never seen by a physician. A child entered the facility healthy and left gravely ill. This is unacceptable. I have heard description of a holding area in one such facility by a 1st hand witness: approx 35 people packed into a room no bigger than a hospital room, no room for beds, no pillows, nada. Imagine.

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  • Paula
    Voted Yes
    08/30/2018
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    As others have said, the current system is not only dysfunctional, it's evil. The first thing is the current administration's attitude towards people seeking asylum. These are not people sneaking in to get a better life (not a terrible thing in itself), but rather looking for protection from violence in their homes. So I say that the old system should be left as is - let the families live with family in the community in the US until their hearings are scheduled. They are NOT criminals! There are statistics showing that the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers show up for their hearings. There are other statistics proving that immigrants do not commit more crime than citizens. It's immoral to separate children from parents under any circumstances especially when the parents are not criminals. In addition, we now have the administration sending ICE to prevent legal Hispanics in particular, born in the US of legal parents, from getting a passport because they say their"birth certificates are fake!!! Every single day comes another unbelievable, enraging story of tRumP's "policies."

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  • Charles
    08/29/2018
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    ICE can not be reformed. It's a terrorist organization that kidnaps children, tortures them, holds them for ransom, and deports their parents. It must be eliminated with reparations paid to its victims.

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  • C
    08/29/2018
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    It was only a matter of time until this happened. Detention is a horrible idea in terms of both physical and psychological care for our fellow human beings who are seeking asylum at our borders. Hold ICE responsible for this child’s death now or there will be more. These vile immigration policies sicken most Americans and we are ashamed and furious.

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