(HOUSTON) – The mother of a young child who died several weeks after being released from the country's largest family detention center filed a lawsuit demanding $ 60 million from the US government for the child's death.
Yazmin Juarez's lawyers filed a lawsuit against several agencies on Tuesday. Juarez's daughter, Mariee, died in May.
Juarez's lawyers said that Mariee had developed a respiratory illness while she and her mother were being held at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. They accused the US Immigration and Customs Service of releasing the couple while Mariee was still sick.
The girl died six weeks later in Philadelphia.
Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter has said it will take legal action if the government does not settle its claim. R. Stanton Jones, the firm's lawyer, said the government had six months to respond before his firm could file a complaint.
"After making the decision to incarcerate young children, the US government is responsible for providing safe, healthy and appropriate living conditions," said Mr. Jones.
ICE and other agencies listed in the application stated that they would not comment on the ongoing litigation.
Jones also filed a $ 40 million claim against the city of Eloy, Arizona, which was officially operating the Dilley Detention Center under a "transmission" agreement with ICE and the private prison company CoreCivic. ICE and CoreCivic replaced their agreement with Eloy in September with an agreement with the city of Dilley.
Lawyers have long complained that medical care at Dilley is substandard and that detaining families is detrimental to their mental health. ICE defended the care provided to Dilley, saying the inmates had access to health professionals.
"ICE takes the health, safety and well-being of those in our care very seriously," spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement.
Dilley is now used to detaining mothers and children, some of whom were reunited in detention after being separated earlier this year under the Trump administration's policy.