"My Mariee died on what is Mother's Day in my country," Yazmin Juarez told a House Oversight subcommittee Wednesday, recounting how her daughter had been healthy when they made the trek north from Guatemala, but became ill during the weeks they spent in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. She testified that after coming to the US to seek asylum last year, they spent a few days locked in a cage with 30 others, sleeping on the concrete floor, before they were sent to a Texas family detention center where "no effort was being made to separate the sick from the healthy or to care for them," NPR reports. After her child became ill, she was prescribed Tylenol and honey. Mariee died in a hospital from a respiratory infection weeks after they were released from custody. She was 21 months old.
"We made this journey because we feared for our lives,” Juarez said, per USA Today. "Instead, I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully before her second birthday." Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked Juarez, in Spanish, whether there had been safe and sanitary conditions in custody and the mother replied, "No," the AP reports. Republican Rep. Chip Roy called for consensus on border security, telling Juarez: "I cannot possibly imagine what you have gone through. We have a broken immigration system and must act quickly." Juarez, who is suing the government for $60 million, said she was testifying because she wants everybody to know about the conditions migrants face in border facilities. "I do not want more children to suffer," she told the hearing. (Read more Immigration and Customs Enforcement stories.)