Ocasio-Cortez left in tears as migrant mother describes how her child died after getting sick in 'terrible' ICE detention center
The child reportedly had fallen ill with a high fever when she and her mother were detained in a facility in Dilley, Texas, last year.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) broke down in tears on Wednesday when a migrant mother revealed a harrowing account of how her one-year-old daughter died after being kept in one of the infamous US detention centers.
The asylum seeker mother from Guatemala, Yazmin Juárezm, while addressing a House panel said that she came to the US seeking safety, but instead she watched her infant daughter die slowly and painfully as the baby did not receive appropriate medical care in US custody.
The mother, who became emotional while talking about her ordeal, left the New York representative in tears as she looked at the image of Juárezm's brown-eyed baby girl on television screens in the hearing room, according to the Daily Mail.
Reports state that the child had fallen ill with a high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea when she and her mother were detained in a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Dilley, Texas, last year.
"It's like they tore out a piece of my heart," Juárez said. "I wanted to have a better life for her and a better future so that she could keep growing, but now we won't be able to do that and she is gone."
After listening to Juárez at the hearing, AOC said: "What is being pointed to here is a culture of cruelty. To have a CBP officer tell a migrant woman 'this country is for Americans' and to threaten to separate her from her daughter, to threaten a human rights violation is extraordinarily concerning." The congresswoman has previously referred to the detention centers as concentration camps.
The hearing before a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee came shortly after media articles and a watchdog report found squalid conditions for children in the migrant detention centers. The report found out that many of the children were crammed for days or weeks into malodorous spaces not meant to hold them longer than 72 hours.
When AOC asked Juárez in Spanish during the hearing, whether the centers were safe and sanitary, the emotional mother responded with: "No." She said that the nurses at the facility did not conduct thorough medical examinations, dismissing her pleas with Tylenol. She added that her daughter was seen by a doctor only once and was given an ice pop.
Juarez has now filed a legal claim seeking $60 million from the U.S. government for her baby's death. During the hearing, Juárez said that she agreed to testify because she wanted everyone to know about the conditions in these centers.
"I do not want more children to suffer," she said. "It is painful for me to relive this experience and remember that suffering, but I am here because the world should know what is happening to so many children in ICE detention."
"My beautiful girl is gone, but I hope her story will spur this country's government to act so that more children do not die because of neglect and mistreatment. I couldn't even hold her, or hug her, or console her when she asked for her mother. As a mother, I wish I could have taken her place. My daughter is gone. The people who are in charge of running these facilities and caring for these little angels are not supposed to let these things happen to them."