Legal Group Claims Child Died After Leaving ICE Family Detention Facility in Texas

Immigration advocates said a child may have died after leaving the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley.
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A migrant child died shortly after being released from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Texas, according to a Washington D.C.-based attorney group.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association said Wednesday it had learned of the death of the toddler shortly after the unidentified child and a parent left the ICE family detention center in Dilley, The Associated Press reported.

“AILA has learned that a toddler died soon after release from the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center,” Gregory Z. Chen, director of government relations for the 15,000-member association, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We do not have information on the cause of death or information that confirms a connection between medical treatment at STFRC and this death.”

Someone in contact with the family made the legal group aware of the child's death, AILA said. They did not name the child or reveal when the alleged death occurred. 

A spokeswoman for ICE told The AP it would investigate the report, but could not provide any information without specifics about the child in question. ICE denied that a child had died at the detention center.

Word that a child may have died at such a facility spread on social media Tuesday after Washington-based lawyer Melissa Turcios posted on Facebook about the death of a friend's granddaughter. 

She wrote the child died “as a result of negligent care and a respiratory illness she contracted from one of the other children,” The AP reported.

Turcios confirmed to the AP that she wrote the post but declined to comment further.   

The social media post ignited widespread outrage, weeks after the Trump administration ended its zero-tolerance immigration policy that separated parents and children after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigrant advocates have criticized what they point to as inadequate medical care for those detained. 

Conditions at the facilities made headlines Tuesday when Matthew Albence, head of enforcement and removal operations for ICE, said during a congressional hearing that conditions at family detention centers was “more like a summer camp” than a jail.

"These individuals have access to 24/7 food and water," he said. "They have educational opportunities. They have recreational opportunities, both structured as well as unstructured. There's basketball courts, there's exercise classes, there's soccer fields that we put in there. 

"They have extensive medical, dental and mental health opportunities," Albence continued. "In fact, many of these individuals, the first time they've ever seen a dentist, is when they've come to one of our centers."
 

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