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Mother Sues over Death of Toddler Released from US Immigration Detention

21-month-old Hospitalized After Release Died of Respiratory Failure

Mariee Juárez.  © Yazmin Juárez via Arnold & Porter

A Guatemalan mother detained with her toddler this year in Texas is suing authorities for the child’s death, citing “unsafe conditions, neglectful medical care, and inadequate supervision" in family immigration detention.

Yazmin Juarez, 20, crossed the border in March with her daughter Mariee, and both were detained at the Dilley Family Residential Center.

Though Mariee was healthy when she arrived, within a week she was running a 104-degree fever, suffering from a cough, congestion, diarrhea, and vomiting. The nurse who discharged Mariee weeks later cleared her for travel without seeing the child, examining her, or taking her vitals. Yasmin’s law firm, Arnold and Porter, alleges that she made a determination that was not within the scope of her vocational nurse’s license.

A doctor who reviewed Mariee’s medical records for Arnold and Porter found that ICE medical staff at Dilley failed to provide adequate care and “engaged in some troubling practices such as providing pediatric care over a long period of time by non-physicians without supervision.”

VICE news, in an investigative report into Mariee’s death, asked five pediatricians to review summaries VICE created of the child’s medical records. They reported that these doctors saw no evidence of negligent care in the VICE summaries. But ICE’s responsibility for Mariee’s death is now a question for the court considering her mother’s claims. And unfortunately, we have found that many deaths in immigration detention are linked to dangerously inadequate medical care.

Of 15 recent deaths in immigration detention, independent medical analysis conducted for Human Rights Watch indicates that subpar medical care contributed to eight fatalities. We have independent medical analysis for 52 deaths in ICE detention since 2010; 23 of these were due to substandard treatment.

Adults in immigration have died after unreasonable delays in getting treatment, botched emergency responses, and poor practitioner care – including nurses practicing outside of the scope of their licenses. As the Trump administration attempts to ramp up its detention of families, more and more kids could be exposed to these dangerous conditions.

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