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US Texas investigating death of migrant toddler after leaving immigrant detention center

10:40  10 august  2018
10:40  10 august  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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Texas investigating death of migrant toddler after leaving immigrant detention center . AUSTIN — Texas officials have opened an investigation into the death of a toddler who reportedly died after being released from an immigrant detention center in South Texas .

Reports of a child dying after leaving an Ice family detention center in Dilley, Texas , had been widely shared on social media and inflamed the debate over immigration and the Trump administration’s crackdown at Texas issues child-care licenses to immigrant detention facility that house children.

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A report that a child died shortly after being released from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Texas has inflamed the debate over the detention of immigrant families.

The South Texas Family Residential Center is an immigrant detention center in Dilley, about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio. A week after reports first surfaced that a migrant child had died after leaving an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement facility near Dilley, state officials have opened

AUSTIN — Texas officials have opened an investigation into the death of a toddler who reportedly died after being released from an immigrant detention center in South Texas.

The child's death was publicized earlier this month by the American Immigration Lawyers Association but details, including the child's name and cause of death, were not made public.

Lawyers representing the toddler's family contacted state officials on Thursday to share information about the child, hours after a top state official publicly called for the details to be shared.

"I need to know the name of that child so we can investigate thoroughly," said Hank Whitman, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, during a legislative hearing at the state Capitol.

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  Report Claims a Child Died Shortly After Leaving ICE Custody A legal group said it learned of the death through someone in contact with the family it could not identify. Human Rights Watch and a group of lawyers that represents families at the detention center say they have no information about whether the child’s death was due to medical treatment while in custody. ICE denied an initial report that the child had died at Dilley and said it was investigating the case further.

AUSTIN — Following the death of a toddler after leaving a Texas immigration detention center and a string of abuse allegations at similar facilities in Arizona, lawmakers will hear testimony on Thursday on how the state regulates the controversial centers .

Reports of a child dying after leaving an ICE family detention center in Dilley, Texas , had been widely shared on social media and inflamed the debate over immigration and the Trump administration’s crackdown at Texas issues child-care licenses to immigrant detention facility that house children.

Whitman said the department had made repeated efforts to contact the family's lawyers and learn information about the child in order to investigate.

Issara Baumann, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C.-based law firm Arnold & Porter, confirmed that lawyers were representing the toddler’s mother.

"Arnold & Porter has recently been retained by the mother of a small child who tragically died after being detained by ICE in unsanitary conditions at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley," Baumann told the USA TODAY Network. “We currently are assessing the case and have no further comments at this time.”

The Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for investigating allegations of abuse and neglect against a child, which includes immigrant children being housed at dozens of residential facilities across the state.

The facilities have come under intense scrutiny in recent months, due to the influx of migrant children being taken into government custody after being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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A toddler died recently after being released from the nation’s largest immigrant detention center , said an official with the American Immigration It is officially known as the South Texas Family Residential Center and opened nearly four years ago.

In addition to the latest investigation into the toddler's death, the department has conducted 51 investigations between December and July into allegations of abuse and neglect at facilities that contract with the federal government to house immigrant minors.

Nine investigations are still pending and the others were determined unfounded, according to Whitman.

When reports of the toddler's death first surfaced, federal officials denied the claim and said that no child had died in their custody. They also said they were unable to investigate the claim further without the child's name or other personal information.

“Without a name or more specific information, we are unable to research this allegation,” ICE spokeswoman Danielle Bennett said in a statement to the Washington Post earlier this month. “That doesn’t make the allegation true, just impossible to refute.”

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, asked the House Human Services Committee to hold a public hearing to discuss the state's ongoing involvement in housing immigrant children in light of the toddler's death and abuse allegations that have surfaced in shelters in other parts of the state.

During Thursday's hearing, Alvarado asked state officials to stop issuing licenses for companies to operate residential shelters until an investigation into the toddler's death is completed. There are currently four pending applications to establish such shelters, including in Houston, Los Fresnos and San Benito County.

Victoria Ford, the interim chief operating officer at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said the state is required by law to issue licenses to entities who file the appropriate paperwork and meet all of the requirements for operating a shelter.

Madlin Mekelburg is a reporter with the USA Today Network Austin Bureau; she may be reached at 512-479-6606; [email protected]; @madlinbmek on Twitter.

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