Migrant Mother Testifies On ICE Detention: ‘I Watched My Baby Die Slowly And Painfully’

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Asylum seeker Yazmin Juarez appeared in front of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday to testify on the death of her 19-month-old child, whose illness was left untreated while they were in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Juarez, who is filing a $60 million lawsuit against the US for the wrongful death of her daughter Mariee, gave a tearful testimony on the circumstances that led to Mariee’s fatal illness.

Juarez told Congress that she and Mariee fled Guatemala in spring 2018 to seek asylum in the U.S because she was “more afraid of what might happen to us if we stayed.”

“So we came to the United States where I hoped to build a better, safer life for us,” Juarez said through a translator. “Unfortunately that did not happen. Instead I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully just a few months before her second birthday.”

According to Juarez, Mariee was “very healthy” until after they were sent to an ICE facility in Dilley, Texas, where many sick children were being held in detention. Within a week, the baby became sick with a respiratory illness. However, ICE agents never allowed Juarez take Mariee to a doctor in the facility, forcing Juarez to rush her daughter to the ER immediately after they were finally released from the center.

Mariee spent six weeks in the hospital and “suffered horrible pain” before she died, said Juarez.

“I couldn’t even hold her or hug her or console her when she asked for her mother,” she said. “It was a terrible pain to see my child in a situation and circumstance like this one and as a mother, I wish that I could have taken her place.”

“I’m here today because I don’t want any more little angels to suffer the way Mariee did and the way I am now,” Juarez said near the end of her opening statement. “I don’t want any more mothers or fathers to lose children.”

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) asked Juarez if she’d witnessed a culture of cruelty at the detention center, Juarez said that an ICE agent had told her, “You know, this country is for Americans, Trump is my president, and we can take your little girl away from you and lock you in jail.”

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