During a hearing in front of the House Oversight Committee on July 10, Guatemalan mother Yazmin Juárez testified about the death of her 19-month-old daughter Mariee, who died from a treatable illness just weeks after the pair crossed the US-Mexico Border. Juárez and her daughter fled their home country in March 2018 but were detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, for 20 days. That's where Juárez's daughter fell ill, according to ABC News.
"My daughter Mariee and I fled Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States," Juárez said through a translator. "We made this journey because we were scared for our lives. The journey was dangerous, but I was more afraid of what might happen to us if we stayed in my country. So we came to the United States where I hoped to build a better, safer life for us. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully just a few months before her second birthday."
Mariee got sick during her stay at the detention facility, which was overseen by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Six weeks after being released, the toddler died from a treatable respiratory infection. "The conditions at Dilley were unsanitary, unsafe, and inappropriate for any small child," said Juárez's lawyer, R. Stanton Jones, who later added that Juárez was not taken seriously at the detention facility when she raised concerns about her daughter's health and requested medical care.
As Juárez shared her story, several lawmakers became visibly emotional, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In November 2018, Juárez's lawyers filed an administrative wrongful death claim seeking $60 million from the federal government.
Juárez continues to seek justice for her daughter — who is one of at least seven children who have died in ICE custody or following release by ICE under the Trump administration — by sharing her heartbreaking story. And as Americans, it's a story we should all hear.