line illustration of two hands holding single wide candle

Acacia Mourns Death of 15-Year-Old Girl

[Washington] – National immigrant legal defense advocate, Acacia Center for Justice, released the following statement in response to the passing of a 15-year-old girl in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

EL PASO, Texas – In response to the passing of a 15-year-old girl in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement while being treated for a serious pre-existing medical condition earlier this week, Shaina Aber, Executive Director of the Acacia Center for Justice issued the following statement: 

“We join our partners at the Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services (DMRS) of El Paso in expressing profound grief over the death of ‘Julita,’ a 15-year-old from Guatemala who arrived at the United States border by herself to seek medical care and join her family. We also join DMRS in expressing gratitude to the medical professionals and staff at El Paso Children’s Hospital for the exceptional care they provided Julita during her last days.”

“We are grateful the Office of Refugee Resettlement provided Julita with the standard of care her dire situation merited and prioritized reunification with her family in the United States. At the same time, we are deeply troubled by the recent string of tragic deaths of immigrant children in government custody reported in the press. In Julita’s case, the government prioritized her medical needs and ensured she received the care she needed. But for so many others, the U.S. government’s record has not lived up to our shared values. In the case of another young person, Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez, Customs and Border Protection reportedly denied care despite her mother’s multiple pleas. 

Acacia and our network of legal partners serve tens of thousands of immigrant children every year. We know firsthand that the conditions they are received in are all too often appalling. Whether in the custody of Customs and Border Protection, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or in their new communities, every child should be treated with dignity and respect for their human rights to care, safety, humane reception, and swift family reunification. We call on the Biden administration to redouble its efforts to address the conditions of reception for all immigrants in Customs and Border Protection facilities and to ensure screening for medical needs are prioritized. Customs and Border Protection must communicate information regarding children’s medical needs without fail to the Office of Refugee Resettlement as children are referred to their custody.”

You may be interested in

About Acacia Center for Justice

Acacia Center for Justice delivers and advocates for meaningful and effective access to justice and freedom for immigrants at risk of detention or deportation in partnership with an accountable, independent nationwide network of immigrant legal service providers and community partners. Acacia Center for Justice’s reach and impact are unparalleled. The national nonprofit currently operates seven federally funded programs and one state funded program through a network of nearly 60 legal service providers located in over 80 offices across the country.