Washington D.C., Jul 11, 2019 / 10:15 am
Members of Congress heard testimony on Wednesday about harsh conditions in migrant detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border, including from a bereaved migrant mother whose infant child became sick in detention and eventually died.
“I am here because the world should know what is happening to so many children inside ICE detention,” Yazmin Juarez, a 19 year-old migrant from Guatemala, said in her testimony through a translator before members of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on July 10.
“My beautiful girl is gone, but I hope her story will spur this country’s government to act so that more children do not die because of neglect and mistreatment,” she said at the hearing on “Kids in Cages” at migrant detention facilities.
The number of migrants journeying to the U.S.-Mexico border climbed sharply in recent months. A July 2 report by the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found that the number of apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley Sector alone rose by 124 % in the 2019 fiscal year against the same eight-month period the previous year.
The IG report warned of “dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley” and urged DHS to “take immediate steps” to address the problem.
Juarez, one of several witnesses who testified on Wednesday before the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee, told members how the poor conditions at an ICE facility in Dilley, Texas led to her daughter Maria’s preventable death.
The facility was cramped with sick migrants in close quarters, Juarez said. Her daughter Maria soon developed a fever and a cough, which intensified to include diarrhea and vomiting, but she was not able to receive the care she needed. Juarez finally finally secured a doctor’s appointment for Maria only to learn she was being transferred from the facility to New Jersey, to be with her mother.
In New Jersey, Juarez took Maria to a hospital where she was admitted to the ICU with a viral lung infection. Over the next six weeks, Maria suffered “horrible pain.” before she died on May 10, the hospital’s care having come “too late” for her.