Immigrant Child Dies Shortly After Leaving ICE Custody
HOUSTON, TEXAS — August 2, 2018
The American Immigration Lawyers Association said it learned of the death of a child shortly after the child and her parents left an ICE family detention center in Dilley, Texas.
The incident caused a lot of tension and widespread debate over the detention of immigrant families, but the exact circumstances which led to the child's death are still unclear.
Human Rights Watch and the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which represent families held at the facility, both say they do not yet know the cause of death, or whether lack of medical care in the facility is directly to blame.
ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said that the agency would investigate the report, “but without any specifics about who this was we are unable to provide anything further at this time.” ICE has denied any connection to the death.
The story came to light after Houston-based lawyer Mana Yegani tweeted that she had allegedly been informed “that a child died in ICE custody in Dilley, Texas.” Sometime later she deleted the tweet.
Yegani said that she had based her tweet off a Facebook post written by another lawyer, Melissa Turcios.
Turcios allegedly did a live broadcast on Facebook, also writing that the granddaughter of a friend of hers had died “as a result of negligent care and a respiratory illness she contracted from one of the other children.”
It is known that the quality of medical care at ICE facilities is extremely poor, and medical services severely lacking. Immigrant advocates filed multiple complaints against ICE, demanding a judicial inquiry and urging federal authorities to release the immigrants from state custody as soon as possible.
Matthew Albence, an executive associate director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, answered the outcry stating that the facilities undergo rigorous inspections and offer recreation, food and water around the clock, as well as medical services and even dental care.
The San Antonio-based advocacy group RAICES has proclaimed that on Wednesday 500 detained fathers and children will strike at another ICE family detention facility in Texas, in the town of Karnes.
In 2015, immigrant mothers filed a complaint about medical care at two family detention facilities in Texas which were opened during the Obama administration, including Dilley. The mothers said they were told to drink water to treat a range of problems including a broken hand bone and a child who had diarrhea for 2 weeks.