12 detained babies have been released from ICE custody in Dilley, Texas

ICE officers have released 12 of the infants that were being held at a rural Texas detention center, where immigrant advocates claim they dealt with dirty water, limited baby food and a lack of medical care. The release comes just days after immigration advocates called on the Department of Homeland Security to “intervene immediately.”

In an email Monday, ICE said there were 16 infants younger than a year old held at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas as of Friday, March 1. The status of the remaining four babies is unclear. ICE also said there was another infant under the age of one detained at the Texas Karnes detention center. Both facilities are about an hour away from San Antonio, the nearest metropolitan center.

All the mothers and their infants were released to friends and family members who were were “ready to buy them a bus or plane ticket and receive them in their home,” said Katy Murdza, the advocacy coordinator at the American Immigration Council’s Dilley Pro Bono Project.

“Every mother I spoke to said that her child was sick in some way,” Murdza said in a telephone interview Friday with CBS News. Murdza has worked with immigrants at Dilley for almost two years and had rarely seen infants at the detention center until last week. “It’s just really hard seeing all of these very small babies in a detention setting.”

The infants were the subject of a complaint filed by immigration advocates to DHS’s Office of Inspector General last week.

Three advocacy groups — the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. — also sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, which plans to “hold long overdue hearings on conditions behind the doors of immigration detention centers,” according to Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who represents California’s 19th district.


BY KATE SMITH for CBS NEWS

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