A mother whose one-year-old child died after being released from a family detention center in Dilley, Texas has filed a wrongful death claim seeking $60 million from the U.S. government.
According to CNN, Yazmin Juarez’s toddler, Mariee, died in May, six weeks after the mother and daughter were released from the South Texas Family Residential Center. Juarez and her attorney allege that the baby developed a respiratory illness while detained that wasn’t adequately treated by facility medical care.
Upon their release, Juarez took Mariee to New Jersey, where her mother lives, and brought her to the hospital the next day. Mariee was at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia with respiratory failure for six weeks and died on May 10.
“The U.S. government had a duty to provide this little girl with safe, sanitary living conditions and proper medical care but they failed to do that resulting in tragic consequences,” R. Stanton Jones, Juarez’s lawyer, said in a statement. “Mariee entered Dilley a healthy baby girl and 20 days later was discharged a gravely ill child with a life-threatening respiratory infection.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency defended the medical care at Dilley center.
“ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care,” Jennifer Elzea said. “… 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.”
But according to the AP, there have been several complaints about substandard medical care at the Dilley facility and detained families often suffer from mental health issues.
Jones told the news wire that the government has six months to respond to the claim, which was made against multiple agencies, including ICE.
“Having made the decision to jail small children, the U.S. government is responsible to provide living conditions that are safe, sanitary and appropriate,” Jones said.