(HOUSTON) – The mother of a child who died weeks after being released from the largest family detention center in the country filed a lawsuit requesting $ 60 million from the United States government for the child's death.
Yazmin Juarez's attorneys filed the claim against multiple agencies on Tuesday. Juarez's 1-year-old daughter, Mariee, died in May.
Juarez's attorneys said Mariee contracted a respiratory illness while she and her mother were being held at the Family Residential Center of South Texas in Dilley, Texas. They accused the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency of releasing the couple while Mariee was still ill.
The girl died six weeks later in Philadelphia.
Arnold & Porter, a Washington-based law firm, said it will file a lawsuit if the government does not resolve its claim. R. Stanton Jones, a lawyer for the firm, said the government has six months to respond before the firm can file a lawsuit.
"Having made the decision to incarcerate young children, the United States government is responsible for providing safe, sanitary and appropriate living conditions," Jones said.
ICE and other agencies listed in the complaint said they would not comment on the pending litigation.
Jones also filed a $ 40 million claim against the city of Eloy, Arizona, which officially operated the Dilley Detention Center under a "transfer" agreement with ICE and the private prison company CoreCivic. ICE and CoreCivic replaced their agreement with Eloy in September with an agreement made with the city of Dilley.
Advocates have complained for a long time that medical care in Dilley is poor and that detained families harm their mental health. ICE has defended the care provided in Dilley, saying that detainees have access to medical professionals.
"ICE takes the health, safety and well-being of the people we care about very seriously," spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in a statement.
Dilley is now being used to detain mothers and children, some of whom met in detention after being separated this year under the Trump administration's policy.