On Wednesday, Hill Reporter reported that a previously detained immigrant child had passed away, due to ‘possible negligence’ at a child detention center. The child died after having left the Dilley Family Detention Center in South Texas, but other details were unknown.
We have reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on several occasions, and have attempted to contact the attorneys who originally reported on this story, but we have not been able to get many more details on how this child died or whose responsibility it was.
After communicating with ICE over the past few days, it is apparent that they don’t want to provide any details to the press, if they even have details to provide.
I asked Danielle Bennett, a public affairs representative for ICE, several questions about the status of this child, but we were provided with only short and rather unhelpful answers.
On Wednesday I asked her if ICE knows anything about this story and if they are aware of a child who was in a detention center and then moved elsewhere before passing away. Her response was a simple “No”.
Yesterday I reached out to Bennett once more, asking if ICE had been made aware of this child’s death and if they are investigating the matter at all.
Again, her answer did not get us anywhere. “We still have no name or info from any source with which to research this allegation,” Bennett responded.
I then followed up asking if ICE has made any effort to look into this, telling her that there are plenty of details of this occurrence and that the American Immigration Lawyers Association has learned that a toddler died soon after release from the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center.
She simple responded by stating, “I have nothing further for you.”
As it became apparent that ICE was not interested in cooperating with the media in regards to a child who reportedly was in their custody prior to passing away at another location, I decided to reach out to AILA.
I contacted George P. Tzamaras, Sr. Director of Communications and Outreach for AILA and him about their previous report of this child’s death, but they too were a bit tight-lipped.
“AILA learned from a contact who was in touch with the family that the death occurred after the child and parent left Dilley, Tzamaras tells Hill Reporter. “AILA has not contacted ICE about this situation. AILA does not have permission to share who told us this information, and we do not at this time have additional details regarding the death.”
The only new information that came out of this brief discussion is that the child and parent left the Dilley Family Detention Center prior to the child’s death. When I followed up asking if the child was in the custody of their parent at the time of death, I did not receive a response.
AILA did later release a statement saying:
“AILA has learned that a toddler died soon after release from the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center. We do not have information on the cause of death or information that confirms a connection between medical treatment at STFRC and this death.”
A lot of questions remain about this horrendous incident. Was the death caused by negligence on behalf of ICE or the detention facility? Where were the child and parent being released to prior to the child’s death? Were the child and parent together when they were released? Is there an investigation taking place into this matter, by ICE or anyone else? These are all questions which still require answers.