Guatemalan mother sues U.S. government for daughter’s death, seeking $60 million


  • An immigrant mother is suing the U.S. government and seeking $60 million for her child’s death.
  • The Guatemalan woman said that her daughter died weeks after being released from the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.
  • Yazmin Juarez said that the toddler developed a respiratory illness while they were detained and were released while the child was still sick.

A Guatemalan mother has filed a legal claim seeking $60 million from the U.S. government for her daughter’s death.

Yazmin Juarez said that her daughter Mariee contracted a respiratory illness while they were detained at the largest family detention center in the U.S.

Juarez and her lawyers accused the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of releasing the mother and daughter from the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas while Mariee was still unwell.

In May, the one-year-old died in Philadelphia six weeks after being released from the detention center. Juarez’ lawyers submitted the claim against multiple agencies on Tuesday.

Arnold & Porter, a law firm based in Washington, said it will file a lawsuit if the government doesn’t settle the claim. Attorney R. Stanton Jones said the government has six months to respond before the law firm can file suit.

“Having made the decision to jail small children, the U.S. government is responsible to provide living conditions that are safe, sanitary and appropriate,” the lawyer said.

The South Texas Family Residential Center’s medical staff examined and cleared Mariee for custody in March. After several days, the child developed a respiratory infection after being in contact with other children who were sick.

“What started with a cough and congestion and runny nose, turned into intermittent fevers… sometimes spiking as high as over 104 degrees,” Jones told CBS News in August.

When Mariee’s condition turned to worse, Juarez’ mother wired her money so she can buy lemon and tea for her daughter.

“I was desperate because of my daughter. I would cry to my mother like crazy,” Juarez said.

ICE and other agencies that were listed in the claim wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

According to TIME, Juarez’ lawyer has also submitted a $40 million claim against the city of Eloy, Arizona, which officially operated the Dilley detention facility under a “pass-through” agreement with ICE and the private prison company CoreCivic. ICE and CoreCivic replaced its agreement with Eloy in September with an arrangement made with the city of Dilley.

Advocates have highly criticized the medical care in the Dilley detention facility as substandard. Detaining families may also cause damage to their mental health. ICE, defending the Dilley center, said detainees are not deprived of care from medical professionals.

Source: CBS News

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