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December 07, 2018

Castro, Cummings, Thompson, Nadler Ask DHS OIG to Investigate Toddler Death Shortly After Release From a Texas Detention Center

(WASHINGTON) - Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman Elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (MS-02), Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee; and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today called on the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the death of Mariee Juarez days after leaving DHS custody earlier this year. In a letter to Acting Inspector General John Kelly, the Members specifically asked the OIG to conduct a review into the medical care provided by ICE to 18-month-old Mariee and whether any of their actions contributed to her death. 

In July, Rep. Castro wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Nielsen asking whether any children had died or been seriously harmed while in government care. Secretary Nielsen told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, during an in-person meeting days later, that none had died or been seriously harmed to her knowledge. To follow up again in September, Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen saying Mariee’s illness qualified as a serious injury and should have been reported to members of Congress, and to request that she direct the DHS OIG to open an investigation into this case. Specifically, the members wanted to know if ICE could improve the level of care provided to all detainees. Secretary Nielsen failed to respond to this letter, and instead had ICE Deputy Director Ronald Vitiello reply and direct members to reach out directly to DHS OIG.

“The death of a child is a serious occurrence and it is critical that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General factually determine if DHS was medically negligent and whether this negligence led to Mariee’s death,” the Members wrote.

The Members continued: “We believe that an investigation from your office will play a critical and complimentary role in this process and help Mariee’s family get the answers they deserve.  It will also help prevent future incidents and elevate the standard of care provided to all individuals in government custody.”

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

Media Contacts:
Jamie Geller (Castro) 202-225-3236
Jennifer Werner/Aryele Bradford (Cummings) 202-226-5181
Adam Comis (Thompson) 202-225-9978
Daniel Schwarz (Nadler) 202-225-5635