A toddler is dead thanks to Trump's zero-tolerance policy


A toddler died after contracting a respiratory infection at an ICE detention center where overcrowding was an issue. The fallout from Trump's immigration policies has worsened overcrowding and unhealthy conditions at immigration centers.

An 18-month-old girl was sent to an ICE detention center after Trump began implementing his cruel zero-tolerance immigration policy. There, she picked up a respiratory infection, and within six weeks she was dead.

VICE News reports that Yazmin Juárez crossed the Rio Grande with her daughter, named Mariee, while attempting to escape violence in Guatemala.

They hoped to seek asylum, even as the Trump administration has been cracking down and narrowing the conditions under which immigrants can seek help from the United States.

Yazmin and her child were sent to the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. That was where Mariee likely picked up viral pneumonitis, the respiratory infection that ultimately killed her.

VICE notes that "doctors say that conditions at institutions like Dilley allow viruses to spread more easily and make it hard to recover."

The mother is pursuing legal action against ICE, and her lawyers say the facility in Dilley "failed inexcusably" in their care of the family.

Stanton Jones, of the Arnold & Porter law firm, told the site, "Instead of offering safe harbor from the life-threatening violence they were fleeing, ICE detained Yazmin and her baby in a place with unsafe conditions, neglectful medical care, and inadequate supervision."

The Dilley facility has a history of complaints regarding the inadequate care of children there. After being contracted by Homeland Security, doctors put the facility under review and ended up finding major problems with living conditions at the center.

The doctors found that the facility lacked sufficient medical space and detainees who needed medical care were held together in a gym. Sometimes those in charge put toddlers and their parents in medical isolation as punishment for toddler misbehavior.

Facilities like the one where Mariee contracted her illness have been more crowded and increasingly susceptible to transmitting diseases and infections since Trump changed America's approach to immigration.

Detaining and separating families pushes detention facilities beyond what they have traditionally handled while also subjecting detainees to high levels of stress.

ICE has had to request thousands more beds and spaces to accommodate the spike in people thanks to Trump's immigration posture.

VICE reports, "Detention puts children at higher risk of contracting disease, and crowded, stressful conditions make it harder to recover."

Trump's immigration ideas are patently cruel and uncaring toward some of the most vulnerable people in the world, but heartbreaking ordeals like those faced by the Juárez family show that Trump's zero-tolerance policy can also be a catalyst for a cascade of unforeseen consequences.

Family separation leads to overcrowding, which makes it easier for diseases to circulate, which then puts children in the crosshairs — and like Mariee, other children could very well die as a result.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.