Things That Matter

The Mother Of A Child Who Died In Immigration Custody Is Suing The Private Prison Company

The mother of a toddler who died right after they were both held at a detention facility, has filed a federal lawsuit in San Antonio and is demanding  $40 million from CoreCivic, the private jail company that operates it. Yazmin Juárez filed the lawsuit this past Wednesday over the death of her 1-year-old daughter Mariee who would develop a respiratory infection at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement family detention center that CoreCivic operates in Dilley, Texas. She would die of a hemorrhage that led to brain and organ failure. Juárez’s lawyers said that Mariee’s fever had reached 104.2 degrees but that medical staff at the facility had failed to treat her.

The 2018 death sparked outrage and added fuel to the fire in what has been a well-publicized story about migrant children deaths at the U.S. southern border.

Juárez says she made the journey from Guatemala and made the decision to cross the border having fled a dangerous situation. Just last month she told her story at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing where explained the terrible situation at the detention facility. Juárez’s story brought forth a range of emotions for many at the hearing as photos of Mariee were shown on television screens. 

“We came to the United States where I hoped to build a better and safer life for us. Instead, I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully just a few months before her second birthday,” Juárez said in Spanish at the hearing. “We made this journey because we feared for our lives. The trip was dangerous, but I 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. Unfortunately, that did not happen.”

Credit: @ajplus / Twitter

Many senators and members of Congress weighed in at the time about the Jaurez’s story and called for immediate action on the conditions at many of these detention centers.  “This is unjust and un-America. And it is cruel. No family should be criminalized for seeking safety,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) told reporters at the time of the hearing. 

The lawsuit points out the poor and dangerous conditions in the facility that may have played a role in Mariee’s death.

 Credit: @crismcabrera / Twitter

The focus of the lawsuit is the conditions inside the detention facility that held families and small children in overcrowded quarters. This was credited in creating prime conditions for the spread of sickness and other diseases. 

A spokesperson for CoreCivic told the AP that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for contracting, staffing and oversight of medical and mental health services at the Texas facility. The company operates the family detention center at Dilley, the largest facility of its kind.

“While we can’t speak to the specifics of pending litigation, what I can tell you is we have deep sympathy for the family and the tragic loss of their child six weeks after leaving the facility,” CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist in a statement. “We care about every person entrusted to us, especially vulnerable populations for which our partners rightfully have very high standards that we work hard to meet each day.”

We can only hope there is immediate justice for Juárez and Mariee.

Credit: @nbcnews / Twitter

In 2018, Juárez would file a wrongful death claim seeking $60 million from the U.S. government because of their failure to help and provide her daughter with proper medical care. According to CoreCivic’s financial statements, the Dilley facility made $171 million in revenue last year.

There is growing hope that justice will be served and the case will be an example going forward that the lives of these migrants matter. Stanton Jones, Juárez’s attorney, told the AP that if CoreCivic will be taking care of children, there are responsibilities that come with that as well.  

“We don’t believe that it’s ever appropriate to jail small children,” Jones said. “At a minimum, if CoreCivic is making huge amounts of money to run a jail for children, there are legal duties that come with that.”

READ: A Migrant Mother Details The Death of Her Daughter After ICE Detention In Emotional Testimony

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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