Immigrant Mother Whose Child Died in ICE Custody Plans Suit

(Bloomberg) -- A mother of a toddler who died after being held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is moving to sue the city of Eloy, Arizona, an operator of a Texas facility where she and her 19-month-old girl were held.

The mother, Yazmin Juarez, blames the city for the suffering and wrongful death of Mariee, who she says was healthy when the two arrived at the 2,400-bed facility the government uses to house immigrants in Dilley. The child died of respiratory failure two months later, after she was held at the facility for 20 days and didn’t receive the necessary medical treatment, Juarez’s lawyer, R. Stanton Jones, said.

On Tuesday, Jones, a lawyer at Arnold & Porter, filed a notice of claim with the city of Eloy, saying his client will settle the suit for $40 million. Mary Myers, the city clerk at Eloy, didn’t immediately return a call requesting comment.

The facility is run by CoreCivic, which got the contract after ICE modified an agreement it had with Eloy to include the construction and operation of the Dilley facility, according to the notice. Amanda Gilchrist, a spokeswoman for the facility, said ICE Health Service Corps is responsible for staffing and oversight of any medical and mental health services provided there. An ICE spokeswoman declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Juarez was fleeing violence in her home country of Guatemala and planning to seek asylum in the U.S. She and her daughter were apprehended March 1 at the Texas border, and medical personnel days later listed them in good condition, according to the notice. The two were housed in a room with five other mothers and their children, including one boy who was sick with a respiratory infection.

Mariee soon became ill and received only Tylenol and honey packs for her cough, though medical personnel diagnosed her as having an "acute" respiratory infection, according to the notice. On March 12, she developed diarrhea and vomiting, and in the following days the medical staff allegedly failed to address the toddler’s deteriorating condition.

Mother and daughter were flown to New Jersey on March 25, according to the notice. The child’s condition was dire by March 26, when she was hospitalized with influenza and pneumonia. She died on May 10 after being treated in two hospitals for progressive respiratory failure, according to the notice.

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