SAN ANTONIO – A Guatemalan mother is seeking $40 million from a private prison company after her daughter died following a three-week stay in the family detention center in Dilley.
Yazmin Juárez Coyoy, the mother of 21-month-old Mariee Juárez, filed the suit against CoreCivic on Wednesday in San Antonio's federal court. Her lawyers previously filed a civil claim against the town of Eloy, Arizona, for the contract to operate the Dilley detention center with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In March 2018, the mother and daughter were detained after crossing the U.S. border while fleeing the violence and persecution of Guatemala, according to the complaint.
"Mariee was a healthy, happy eighteen-month-old girl" when they got to the United States, but she contracted an infection during her stay at CoreCivic's facility in Dilley.
The girl's condition deteriorated. What began as a cough and runny nose turned into a 104-degree fever accompanied with diarrhea, vomiting, rapid weight loss, low blood oxygen levels and an increased heart rate, according to the complaint.
Yazmin and Mariee Juárez were turned away at least twice by clinic staff. When they were seen, the examinations "fell far below the standard of care," her lawyers wrote.
ICE released the two and cleared them for travel on a flight to New Jersey, with no medical restrictions. Within a day of arriving to New Jersey, Mariee was hospitalized in a pediatric intensive care unit, according to the complaint.
Doctors fought to treat Mariee, but she died May 10, 2018.
"Ms. Juárez left the hospital with only an ink print of Mariee's right hand, which the nurses made the day before as a Mother's Day Gift," her lawyers wrote in the complaint.
CoreCivic has come under fire before for the treatment of its detainees.
The Centers for Immigrants' Rights Clinic released a report two years before Mariee's stay at the facility that raised questions about the quality of food and water detainees received and alleged inadequate medical care.
ICE does not comment on pending litigation and has previously denied mistreatment at private facilities.