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Toddler Dies After Being Released from Immigration Center

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Written by Carmen Cornejo

A misguided immigration policy such as separating children from their parents, or incarcerating families for immigration violations, only spells further disaster. It is not in the best interest of this country and is a clear affront to human rights.

As sadly expected, reports have surfaced of alleged sexual abuse of minors while in the care of DHS contractors such as Southwest Key, forced medication of children and abysmal conditions within the facilities where they are warehoused.

Now, a mother is suing the federal government for $40 million over the death of her toddler, as a consequence of an untreated infection contracted inside the Dilley facility in South Texas.

Yazmin Suarez, a young Guatemalan mother, crossed the border seeking asylum in the U.S., only to be detained at the Dilley Family Detention Center along with her daughter, Mariee, in March 2018.

The Dilley Family Detention facility is the largest of three family detention centers for undocumented migrants in the country, with a capacity to house 2,400 people.

According to the story, 18-month-old Mariee developed an infection and respiratory symptoms due to unsanitary conditions at the center and the lack of appropriate medical care. She died of viral pneumonitis six weeks after being released from the facility, according to an early report from VICE NEWS.

Lawyers now handling the lawsuit against the federal government said Mariee contracted a respiratory infection that went undertreated for nearly a month. The toddler rebounded but suffered setbacks, and when it was clear that she was not getting better, ICE released both mother and child.

Yazmin sought immediate medical treatment for her daughter, who was hospitalized until she was unhooked from a respirator at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she died.

Although some doctors have testified that ICE records of care are consistent with a normal course of action for the disease, advocates are quick to point out that the conditions of mass incarceration for families put individuals at medical risk.

“Respiratory diseases flourish in the setting of crowding,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “Now you’re adding this terrible level of psycho-social stress on kids that could also impair their immune system, making them more susceptible to viruses and bacteria.”