More than a dozen asylum-seeking parents and children who have been detained at a migrant family jail in Texas could be deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as early as Friday, the Associated Press reports. Among the children facing imminent deportation is a 4-year-old girl whose arm was intentionally broken by a man in their home country. But while a doctor said she requires surgery, ICE hasn’t just denied her that, but also refused to release them so they can pursue care on their own.
Now the family, along with more than a dozen others, faces expulsion as soon as today. “All of them are still holding out hope that we might be able to stop their deportations and more importantly win an appeal of their cases,” Proyecto Dilley attorney Mackenzie Levy tells the AP.
The AP reports that the 4-year-old and her mom originally asked for safety in the U.S. last year, but were forced to Mexico to wait out their U.S. immigration cases under the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, or Remain in Mexico. They eventually returned to Ecuador—families have been waiting for their court dates for months and some over a year—but again returned to the U.S. after the child was violently assaulted.
They’ve been jailed and denied proper medical care by ICE at South Texas Family Residential Center, or Dilley, since. The report said that doctors the family has been allowed to see have prescribed her painkillers and have noted a discoloration at her elbow, but ICE continues to refuse to release the family even though it has every power to do so.
“The lawyers argue the families facing deportation were never given a fair chance to seek asylum under several policies enacted by President Donald Trump’s administration that courts later stopped,” the report continued. “But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday lifted an administrative stay and refused to bar the deportations.” ICE has also refused to release families amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Fuller Project recently reported that a detained child who has been jailed with his mom at Dilley for over 420 days is in isolation after contracting the virus. “The prolonged detention, the constant risk of getting sick with COVID-19, and the probability of dying there, is something that affects these women a lot,” Nora Picasso, the family’s attorney, told The Fuller Project. “It’s not only their concern for themselves but … those they most love.”
Like we’ve previously noted, Dilley already has a history of abuse against children: next May will mark three years since a toddler died after being detained at the jail. In testimony to Congress in July 2019, asylum-seeker Yazmin Juárez described how officials consistently failed to provide proper medical treatment when her nearly 2-year-old daughter Mariee became sick while in custody. “I noticed immediately how many sick kids there were—and no effort was made to separate the sick from the healthy,” she said.
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