ICE says a child has not died in ICE detention, despite a claim circulated by a Houston immigration on Twitter.
The claim was first circulated by an immigration lawyer named Mana Yegani in a series of tweets on the evening of July 31, 2018 in which she first wrote that she had heard a child had died in ICE detention. “Reports that a child died in ICE custody at Dilley are false,” ICE wrote on Twitter on the morning of August 1, 2018.
However, Yegani herself later clarified her comments to say the child did not die at the detention center but she claims a child died later of a respiratory illness. The latter claim – that a child later died after leaving detention – has not been verified. An ICE spokesperson told Heavy of the latter claim: “We’re trying to look into it but without any names or more specific info, there’s not much we can look into. Also, there’s a very good chance we would not know what happened to a person who left our custody. None of that makes the allegation true, just impossible to refute.”
Heavy had reached out to ICE for confirmation about whether a child had died in the agency’s custody after Yegani made her claims on Twitter on the evening of July 31, 2018. Yegani is a Houston immigration lawyer whose website declares, “Fighting for you to stay in the United States.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Mana Yegani Alleged There Was Possible ‘Negligent Care’ Involved But ICE Says There Was No Child Death at Dilley
Mana Yegani’s tweets were very detailed – although, again, ICE says it’s false that a child died in ICE detention. She wrote: “There are reports that a child died in ICE custody in Dilley, Texas. Getting more information as the story develops. It’s unclear where the parent(s) of the child is. Some reports indicate that they maybe in New Jersey while child was in Texas.” She tagged Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti in the tweet.
She later provided an updated tweet that changed the sequence of events, writing, “Update: The child died following her stay at an ICE Detention Center, as a result of possible negligent care and a respiratory illness she contracted from one of the other children. The events took place in Dilley Family Detention Center in south Texas.”
She added: “Last night a lawyer in Wash DC, posted on FB, seeking recommendations for a lawyer to represent a family whose child died AFTER her stay at Dilley Detention Cntr in TX. I made the news public.I am in touch with Melissa-the lawyer, but have no confirmation from the victim’s family.”
Yegani added: “A lawyer who is in touch with the family is saying the child who died, her grandmother is in New Jersey. Reporters are in touch with her to get more details.”
On Twitter, Yegani defines herself as “Award winning immigration lawyer. Passionate about Immigrants. Patriotic American. 🇺🇸🐶😻 Love dogs & cats.”
Yegani Has Filled Her Social Media Page With Immigration-Related Posts
Yegani uses Twitter to speak out on behalf of immigrants and against the president’s immigration policies. “If they ask for a visa, the US government won’t give them one. If they stay in their country their kids get killed by the gangs. So they are damned if they try to come the legal or illegal way,” she wrote recently.
She has spoken out previously about Trump’s travel ban.
She also writes about DACA. “A short important thread on DACA: 1- Those who have DACA, go ahead & put in your renewal application even if your status doesn’t expire in 150 days. USCIS will accept the renewal application for NOW. 2. As of Aug. 8 there could be a 🛑 stop on all renewals from a fed judge in TX,” Yegani said a recent tweet.
Previous Reports Found That Other Immigrants Had Died in ICE Custody
In June 2018, Human Rights Watch published a lengthy report into what it labeled “substandard” medical care in immigrant detention.
The story recounts the deaths of several immigrants in detention, including a man who died of a heart attack. However, the people described in that story are adults.
If there had been a death of a child in ICE custody – especially if it ended up being a child separated from her parents – that would obviously have provoked another firestorm over the president’s controversial family separation policy. But, again, ICE says there was not.
Immigration officials appeared before Congress on July 31, 2018 and defended the president’s policies, saying that some parents had left their children behind, according to The Dallas Morning News, which added that others were critical that some families remain separated after Trump said he would discontinue the policy.
“We do not leave our humanity behind when we report for duty,” Carla L. Provost, acting chief of U.S. border patrol, said at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the Morning News reported.
This story has been updated with ICE’s response.