AP NEWS

Attorneys say immigrant child died after release from family detention center in Texas

August 2, 2018

The American Immigration Lawyers Association said Wednesday that an immigrant child died shortly after being released with a parent from a family detention center in Dilley, outside of San Antonio.

George Tzamaras, a spokesman for the group, said it received the information from someone who had been in touch with the family. He said he could not share any additional details, including when and how the death occurred or how old the child was. He did not identify the child, so the Houston Chronicle could not independently confirm the death.

“We do not have information on the cause of death or information that confirms a connection between medical treatment at (the facility) and this death,” Katy Murdza, advocacy coordinator of the Dilley Pro Bono Project, an immigrant aid group, said in an email. “We have, however, seen ongoing inadequacies in the standard of care provided to mothers and children in Dilley, and have filed complaints with the government raising these concerns.”

CONTROVERSIAL SHELTER: Houston officials dispute claim that shelter for migrant kids on verge of opening

Danielle Bennett, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which runs the nation’s three family detention centers for immigrants, said in an email that no child has died at Dilley while in the agency’s care.

“We are looking into the report of the death after custody, but without any specifics about who this was we are unable to provide anything further at this time,” she said.

Hundreds of separated families have been reunited in recent days at Dilley and another family detention center near San Antonio in Karnes. Those facilities also house families who were apprehended at the border, but not separated by the government, so it was not clear whether the child had been separated as part of the administration’s now-rescinded policy or had been detained there together with a parent.

Melissa Turcios, a lawyer in Washington D.C., said in an email that she is a friend of the child’s family and trying to connect them with pro bono counsel. She declined to provide any further information.

Amy Maldonado, an immigration attorney in Michigan, said Turcios shared the incident in a Facebook group, looking for recommendations on an attorney. An immigration attorney in Houston, Mana Yegani, first posted about the death on Twitter late Tuesday and it quickly sparked viral outrage.

Yegani said on Twitter that the child, a toddler girl, died after being released from the detention center “as a result of possible negligent care and a respiratory illness she contracted from one of the other children.” Yegani said she heard the account from Turcios, and had not spoken directly with the family, some who she said are in New Jersey.

lomi.kriel@chron.com

@lomikriel

AP RADIO
Update hourly