On Capitol Hill, House lawmakers heard heart-wrenching testimony Wednesday from the Guatemalan mother of a toddler who died after she became sick in an ICE jail near the U.S.-Mexico border. Yazmin Juárez says her 18-month-old daughter Mariee was healthy when she brought her to the U.S. in March seeking political asylum. But one week after the pair were jailed at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the girl developed a cough, diarrhea and vomiting, with a fever that spiked at 104 degrees. Juárez says her daughter received inadequate medical care in a clinic set up in the center’s gymnasium. After their release, Juárez rushed her daughter to the emergency room. She spent six weeks in hospital before she died of complications from a deadly lung infection.
Yazmin Juárez: “All the hard work of these doctors came too late. My Mariee died on Mother’s Day, on the day that in my city, in my country, we celebrate Mother’s Day. When I left the hospital that day, all I had with me was a piece of paper with Mariee’s handprints in pink paint, that the staff had created for me. It was the only thing that I had left, just her handprints. The nurses had made it the previous day as a Mother’s Day gift.”
Juárez has filed a $60 million lawsuit against the U.S. for the wrongful death of her daughter Mariee. She was one of seven children to die in U.S. immigration custody—or shortly after a release from custody—over the past year. Before last year, no child died in U.S. immigration custody in over a decade.