On Feb. 10, a 26-year-old undocumented immigrant from El Salvador collapsed at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Texas, after complaining of headaches. She was brought to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Burleson, where doctors concluded she had a brain tumor, the woman's lawyers tell The Daily Beast. During her only conversation with her mother, on Feb. 19, the woman, identified only as Sara, said she was bleeding heavily through her nose, convulsing, and suffering some memory loss. She has otherwise been barred from communicating with her family.
The lawyers said they were expecting doctors to operate on Sara soon, but on Wednesday she was reportedly forcibly removed from the hospital without treatment and returned to the Prairieland Detention Center. "She told us they tied her hands and ankles in her condition," Melissa Zuniga, a member of Sara's New Jersey-based legal team, tells The Hill. "She's complaining of a lot of pain." Zuniga said that the hospital "no longer wants to be in charge of her case because they’re getting hounded by calls and a potential lawsuit" — Sara's family said it might sue if she did not receive adequate care — but that doctors gave Sara a CD with her medical records and told her not to turn it over to ICE; it was taken from her as soon as she returned to the detention center.
Sara's sister and her lawyers were flying to Texas on Wednesday night to press for her release, The Hill reports. Sara was detained in 2015 after illegally crossing into the U.S. from Mexico, and after she missed the deadline for filing for asylum, a judge cleared her for deportation in January 2016. She was in detention appealing the ruling when she collapsed. "You are bound to see more cases like this if ICE fulfills the government's orders and dramatically expands detention," Bob Libal, an Austin-based immigrants-rights advocate, tells The Daily Beast. "You are bound to see more stories where people have suffered these kind of medical tragedies in detention."
In the Associated Press video below, about another fraught immigration story in Texas, a member of Libal's organization, Grassroots Leadership, notes that former President Barack Obama deported more than 2 million undocumented immigrants in his two terms. "Obama built this machine, but he left it in the hands of Trump," says Cristina Parker, "and what we're seeing is what that means." Peter Weber