Asylum-Seeking Mom With Brain Tumor Released From ICE Detainment

Sara Beltran-Hernandez has been in immigrant detention for over a year.

A 26-year-old mother with a brain tumor, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador in November 2015 seeking asylum from her children’s abusive father, has been released from detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Amnesty International.

At Sara Beltran-Hernandez’s third bond hearing on Thursday, she was granted release from Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas, to be with her family and seek treatment for her brain tumor.

“I want to thank Amnesty International activists taking action on my behalf,” she said in a press release from Amnesty International. “I truly appreciate your support, and your actions made a difference. Because of you, I can now get the medical care I need and be reunited with my family. Thank you.”

Sara Beltran-Hernandez in an undated photo.
Sara Beltran-Hernandez in an undated photo.

The announcement of Beltran-Hernandez’s release follows a campaign from Amnesty International that mobilized members across the country to call ICE and ask for her freedom.

“Sara and her family are overjoyed that she will finally be able to be with her loved ones and receive medical care after being unjustly detained for over 400 days,” said Eric Ferrero, a spokesman for Amnesty International USA.

“Sara never should have been held for so long in the first place, let alone with a medical issue,” Ferrero said. “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 with one of her two children.
Beltran-Hernandez with one of her two children.

Beltran-Hernandez’s release will allow her to reside with her family in New York while her asylum claim is processed. Her legal team went through three bond hearings to get her released. They, along with Amnesty International, vehemently argued that her human rights were “being violated in ways that are shocking and outrageous.”  

Under U.S. and international law, individuals who come to the U.S. seeking asylum because they fear for their safety in their home country are allowed to stay as their claims are being reviewed ― but some are detained during that process.

In a Feb. 22 letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Amnesty argued that detention should be a last resort and that parole should be granted for people who, like Beltran-Hernandez, are suffering from a medical emergency and pose no flight risk or threat to public safety.

This story has been updated with comment from Beltran-Hernandez via Amnesty International.



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