A mother is suing the US government for the wrongful death of her 19-month-old daughter. Yazmin Juarez is a recent immigrant from Guatemala caught up in the US government’s ever-shifting immigration policy. Juarez and her daughter were detained at the border and confined to an immigration facility in early Spring.
They were sent to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. It was there beginning on March 1st, according to Juarez’s attorney, that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refused to get 19-month-old Mariee Juarez proper medical care, resulting in her death. For six weeks, Mariee’s upper respiratory infection grew worse and worse while ICE medical staff prescribed only Tylenol when the toddler was presenting with a 104-degree fever, congestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. The 20-year-old mother seeks $60 million in damages.
Mariee made it to a hospital emergency room only after ICE released the mother and daughter and the pair made their way to family in New Jersey. The toddler died there on May 10th. While in ICE custody, Yazmin had attempted to get emergency care for her daughter multiple times. Emergency doctors at the hospital in New Jersey diagnosed Mariee with an upper respiratory infection, acute bronchiolitis, and an ear infection.
The statement from Juarez’s attorney that lays out the toddler’s condition goes on to state, “The medical staff who discharged her weeks later noted none of these conditions and cleared her for travel without viewing Mariee, conducting any kind of examination, or taking her vital signs.
“Mariee entered Dilley a healthy baby girl and 20 days later was discharged a gravely ill child with a life-threatening respiratory infection. Mariee died just months before her 2nd birthday because ICE and others charged with her medical care neglected to provide the most basic standard of care as her condition rapidly deteriorated and her mother Yazmin pleaded for help.”
Customs and Border Protection declined to make a direct comment citing pending litigation but made clear, ” [a] lack of comment should not be construed as agreement or stipulation with any of the allegations”.
An ICE spokeswoman defended her department’s medical staff, saying “ICE is committed to insuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care.”
The South Texas Family Residential Center is the largest ICE facility of its kind. It has the capacity to hold a total of 2,400 people.