An undocumented immigrant was diagnosed with a brain tumor after having been detained and placed in deportation proceedings. Now, her family worries that she won't receive the care she needs to survive.
Salvadoran-born Sara Beltran-Hernandez, 26, started complaining of headaches and then collapsed on Feb. 10 at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas, reported the Daily Beast. She was then taken to a nearby hospital.
But access to ICE detainee patients is limited and Beltran-Hernandez's family has had a difficult time contacting her.
"Requests by family members to visit ICE detainees who have been hospitalized are permitted but must be approved in advance with ICE and the appropriate consulate," Danielle Bennett, an ICE public affairs officer, told the the Daily Beast. "ICE is currently reaching out to the family’s attorney to explain the process."
The New York Daily News later reported that Beltran-Hernandez was removed from the hospital after several days and taken back to the detention center.
"They had her tied up from hands and ankles," said Beltran-Hernandez's attorney, Melissa Zuniga said. "She was brought in a wheelchair and is not being given treatment even though her nose continues to bleed and she has told them her head is exploding."
Zuniga added that Beltran-Hernandez was put on a surgery waitlist, but later removed without explanation.
There have been several stories of ICE detainees being denied access to adequate medical care over the past few years.
In 2015, 44-year-old Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos died of intestinal cancer after detention center staff at the Adelanto Detention Center in Palmdale, California, allegedly denied him medical care, despite complaints about "a man who was suffering from diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and uncontrollable leakage of urine," reported the Los Angeles Times.
Between 2012 and 2015, 18 immigrants died in ICE custody, and Human Rights Watch believes poor medical care was to blame for most of the cases.
"In 2009, the Obama administration promised major immigration detention reforms, including more centralized oversight and improved health care," said Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch. "But these death reviews show that system-wide problems remain, including a failure to prevent or fix substandard medical care that literally kills people."