The human rights organization trying to free an asylum seeker who needs brain surgery is urging its members and supporters to call and demand the woman be released from a detention center in Alvarado.
Amnesty International USA, the human rights nonprofit, said in an e-mail that it launched a campaign Friday hoping to flood the phone lines at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security offices about the woman, whose lawyer says she has a brain tumor and needs to be returned to the hospital.
Sara Beltran Hernandez — a 26-year-old mother of two young children from El Salvador —has been detained for more than a year at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado as she seeks asylum. Earlier this month, she began experiencing symptoms of severe headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss, and then on Feb. 11 she collapsed, according to The Associated Press.
She was taken to the Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Burleson, diagnosed with a brain tumor and placed on a waiting list for emergency surgery, according to the Los Angeles Times. She was removed from the hospital Wednesday and returned to the detention center.
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“After she was determined by her physician to be stable, she was discharged from the hospital and returned to ICE custody at (Prairieland Detention Center). Ms. Beltran Hernandez has an appointment with a specialist on Monday who will determine the course for future treatment. Until that time, ICE medical staff is keeping her under observation,” Danielle Bennett, an ICE spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
Beltran Hernandez told an attorney Thursday that she is having many problems since leaving the hospital, the AP reported.
“I feel dizzy, with pain. Heavy eyes. Nausea. If I walk fast, I feel dizzy. Noise really bothers me,” she said in a statement provided to WFAA.. “I have not eaten since yesterday [when I ate a salad] because I have no appetite. Sometimes, I forget things. The tongue is not always responsive.”
She wrote that the tumor was to be evaluated as to whether it was cancerous.
Her family and her lawyers are worried about her health. Lawyers said Beltran Hernandez was only receiving Tylenol for pain.
“We are asking for immediate humanitarian parole. We can’t wait for a bond redetermination hearing. She doesn’t have days, she has hours … we need her to get out,” Melissa Zuniga, a paralegal working on the case, told the AP. “This is the 13th day she has not had this surgery, and we do not understand why.”
In a news release Friday, Amnesty International urged its U.S. members and supporters — more than 1.2 million people, the release said — to call ICE and Homeland Security to demand she be released while her request for asylum is reviewed.
Beltran Hernandez entered the country illegally at Texas’ border with Mexico, according to ICE records. She reportedly intended to go to New York to be with her family. An immigration judge ordered her removed from the country, but attorneys are appealing her asylum case, saying she was fleeing domestic violence and gang-related violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.