by Emma J. Randles
We are highlighting the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by GEO Group.
Beginning August 1 of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using Karnes to hold more than 500 women and children who have recently come to the U.S. from Central America seeking refuge.
Recent reports indicate that ICE is unwilling to grant any bonds, or grants exorbitantly high bonds — even to those women with children who are able to pass a credible fear interview and qualify to apply for asylum status. According to ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda, bond decisions are now being made on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to flight risk and public safety. However, the majority of the women currently being denied bond can prove that they have family members or others who are available to receive them. This new policy was handed down as a reaction to the influx of women and children fleeing from increasing violence in Central America.
One of the families who is severely affected by this new no-bond policy are the Beltrans. Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her seven-year-old daughter Nayely Bermudez Beltran are being detained after fleeing from violence in El Salvador. Prior to fleeing their country, Nayely was being treated for a malignant brain tumor. While they are being held at Karnes, Nayely is not receiving any treatment for her life-threatening condition. Sara has passed a credible fear interview, which means she qualifies for asylum in the U.S., and they have arrangements to stay at the Posada Esperanza shelter in Austin when they are released.
Nayely’s MRI results have been analyzed by three U.S.-trained doctors who recommend immediate care so that her condition does not becoming life-threatening. According to Dr. Simon Carlson, a neuroradiologist based in Austin, “This is a case which can become life threatening in very short order, which can take a turn for the worse with little to no forewarning, with devastating outcomes. Urgent care is needed for this child, and she is likely to suffer long term brain damage or worse if left to routine care without urgent specialist intervention.”
Texans United for Families has been advocating for the family to be released, asking people to call Assistant Field Office Director Sylvester Ortega at 830-254-2500 to ask that Nayely and Sara be allowed to leave the family detention center to seek medical care immediately.
The cruelty of ICE and the Karnes County family detention center in this case earns them a place in our humpday hall of shame. We can’t think of anything more shameful that keeping Nayely and Sara for more than a month in the prison-like conditions of detention while Nayely’s tumor threatens her life. But this case also shows us the shame of keeping these families in detention under a no-bonds policy. It also poses the question: Why put women and children seeking asylum in prison-like conditions in the first place?
There’s one more reason why she needs to be released right away. The family’s attorney has arranged care for Nayely at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, and she has an appointment with a specialist scheduled for this Tuesday, September 9.
But as of this posting, ICE still won’t free the Beltrans.