On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing addressing the conditions child migrants are facing after crossing the southern border.
Yazmin Juárez, whose 19-month-old daughter died weeks after being released from ICE detainment in 2018, testified during the hearing, describing the mistreatment she faced while seeking asylum. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), who was brought to tears at times during the day’s proceedings, asked Juárez a series of empathetic questions, creating the emotional highlight of the hearing.
While speaking with Ocasio-Cortez, Juárez claimed that ICE officials threatened to separate her from her daughter upon their arrival in the US. “‘You know this country is for Americans. Donald Trump is my president. And we can take your daughter away from you and lock you in jail,'” she recalled being told by officers.
When Ocasio-Cortez asked her if the conditions of the center were sanitary and safe, Juárez responded with a clear “No.”
Juárez, a native of Guatemala, told the committee she was making the journey because she feared for her and her daughter’s life back home. “The trip was dangerous, but I was more afraid of what might happen to us if we stayed. So we came to the United States where I hoped to build a better, safer life for us,” she said. “Unfortunately, that did not happen.”
“To have a CBP officer tell a migrant woman escaping unspeakable horrors in her home country, and tell them this country is for Americans, and to threaten separating her from her daughter, to threaten a human rights violation, is extraordinarily concerning,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “and at a bare minimum, grounds for serious investigation by this committee and other entities.”