Mother of toddler who died after ICE detainment testifies before House subcommittee


Yazmin Juárez, whose 21-month-old daughter died after the two were both detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee. 

{mosads} She said that her daughter Mariee became sick while in detention, but that if conditions were better at the Dilley, Texas, facility where they were being held, her daughter might have survived, according to a copy of her testimony.  

“Mariee was a healthy baby girl when she was taken into ICE custody. But 20 days later, she left with a life-threatening infection,” she said. Small children do not belong in detention. But if ICE’s detention center had just been safe and sanitary – and if they’d given my daughter the proper medical care she needed – Mariee might still be here today, preparing to celebrate her third birthday in August.”

“Instead, my daughter is gone,” she continued. “The people who run these facilities are supposed to take care of these children – little angels who have done nothing wrong. Most of the children are brought here by parents seeking a better, safer life for them.”

Juárez, who spoke before the House Oversight Civil Rights Subcommittee, also said during her testimony that after her daughter became sick, her pleas for more medical examinations were turned away. 

“A different physician assistant told me she had an ear infection and gave her antibiotics, but I know my baby and I knew it was something more serious,” she said. “I begged them to conduct more exams, but they sent us back to our room and said to come back if Mariee got worse.” 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was photographed hugging Juárez after she delivered her testimony. 



An ICE spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that provides comprehensive medical care to all individuals in its custody including by having medical personnel including nurses, a physician, and mental health providers on staff.

The spokesperson also noted access to 24-hour emergency care. The spokesperson said that the agency spends $270 million on health care services. 

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care. ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care,” the spokesperson said. 

“As detailed in the June 2017 DHS Inspector General’s Report, the family residential centers are ‘clean, well-organized, and efficiently run’ and the agency was found to be ‘addressing the inherent challenges of providing medical care and language services and ensuring the safety of families in detention.'”  the statement continued. 

The spokesperson declined to comment on the specific allegations by Juárez, who is suing the agency, because it cannot comment on pending legal claims. 

Juárez and her daughter arrived at the U.S. last year and were seeking asylum, according to CBS News.  

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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