Lawyers for an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador claim that she was removed from a Burleson, TX, hospital against her will by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency officials, and sent to an ICE detention center, despite having been diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this month.
The 26-year-old woman, identified only as "Sara," had initially come to the United States in late 2015 seeking asylum, but was apprehended by border patrol agents upon entering the country, The Daily Beast reported. In a statement after the arrest, Sara explained that returning to El Salvador would put her life at risk from gang-affiliated family members. After missing a clerical deadline to file her asylum request, however, Sara was sent to the Prairieland dentention facility in Texas. There, the Daily Beast wrote, she began complaining of headaches, and on February 10 of this year, collapsed. She was taken to a Fort Worth-area hospital, where she was told she had developed a brain tumor.
Lawyers for Sara told The Daily Beast that while their client's condition had been deteriorating, they expected hospital officials to conduct a potentially life-saving operation to soon. While at the hospital, she was largely prevented from communicating with family members, due to ICE policies. Fatma Marouf, Texas-based attorney contacted by Sara's family to gather more information, was threatened with arrest by ICE officials when she entered Sara's hospital room.
In a statement to The Hill, an ICE spokesperson said:
Requests by family members to visit detainees who have been hospitalized are permitted but must be approved in advance with ICE and the appropriate consulate. ICE reached out to the family to explain the process.
On Wednesday, however, Sara was pulled from the hospital and returned to the Prairieland Detention Center by ICE agents, The Hill reported.
"She told us they tied her hands and ankles in her condition," attorney Melissa Zuniga told the paper. "She's complaining of a lot of pain."
"Huguley [hospital] no longer wants to be in charge of her case," Zuniga added later. "Because they’re getting hounded by calls and a potential lawsuit."
Sara's case comes amidst a string of harsh actions taken against immigrant communities by President Trump's administration. Earlier this week, the White House announced a series of sweeping executive orders which would expand ICE's authority to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, and start initial work on constructing the President's proposed "border wall."
While Sara's exact condition is currently unknown at this time, her family and legal team worry she may not have much time left, and have reportedly flown down to Texas from New Jersey to press for her release.