The pain was caused by a brain tumor and, today, lawyers for the woman who remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fear she’ll die there without ever seeing or speaking to her family again.
It’s a scenario that advocates worry could become far more common under President Donald Trump’s new immigration enforcement rules.
According to her legal team, helmed by attorney Marcia Kasdan, the woman — who we will identify as Sara to protect her privacy — was being held at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas, when she started complaining of terrible headaches.
In her court testimony, Sara acknowledged that she illegally crossed the border on Nov. 4, 2015, and border patrol agents apprehended her. A sworn statement from Border Patrol agent Roberto Gonzalez Jr. says Sara told him on Nov. 8, 2015 that she came to the U.S. to work, and not to seek asylum.
She told an immigration judge on Jan. 12, 2016, that she actually did come to the U.S. from her native El Salvador seeking asylum, and that she feared her aunt — who she said is gang-affiliated — would kill her because she was in a relationship with a Salvadoran police officer. But Sara missed the deadline to file her asylum claim, so the judge ordered her deportation. Her legal team, which began working with her after she missed that deadline and acknowledges that it was missed, appealed. She has been in detention since then."