An asylum seeker with a brain tumor who made headlines after she was detained by ICE has now been released, Amnesty International said on Thursday.
The international human rights group has been actively campaigning for Sara Beltran Hernandez’s release, with over 1.2 million of its members flooding ICE with phone calls demanding she be freed, according to an AI press release.
“Sara never should have been held for so long in the first place, let alone with a medical issue,” said Eric Ferrero, a spokesperson for Amnesty International USA. “ It is unconscionable to treat people fleeing violence and danger as if they are criminals. Applying for asylum should not mean giving up one’s human rights in the process.”
Beltran Hernandez has been in the U.S. since November 2015. She fled an abusive boyfriend and death threats from a gang leader in El Salvador, according to the Washington Post. Hernandez was detained by ICE shortly after crossing the border, and has been awaiting a decision for the past 16 months on whether she qualifies for asylum.
But her case didn’t garner attention until, as a result of her brain tumor, she had a seizure and collapsed at a detention center in Texas. Beltran Hernandez’s family alleged that ICE treated her like a criminal throughout her sickness, shuffling her between hospitals and the detention center and withholding information on her location.
From the Washington Post:
Approximately two weeks after Beltran Hernandez’s diagnosis, officials told the sick woman’s attorneys she would be transferred to “a hospital in Dallas better equipped to handle her medical condition.” Instead, she was moved back to the Prairieland Detention Center — the same place where she collapsed — in “handcuffs, with shackles around her waist and ankles,” according to her petition.
ICE’s raids have raised concerns among immigrant advocacy groups for their aggression and for their targeting of individuals who had previously not been considered high priorities for detainment or deportation, including DACA recipients—immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children and who were permitted to remain in the country under the Obama administration.
Beltran Hernandez will now be reunited with her family in New York while she awaits the result of her asylum process.