Why is asylum seeker Sara Beltran Hernandez dangerous?

By Larry Ladutke, El Salvador Country Specialist, AIUSA

President Trump said that his administration would target the most dangerous undocumented immigrants–“bad hombres”–for deportation. Is Sara Beltran Hernandez a “bad hombre”?
 

 On Wednesday, February 22, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents removed the young mother of two from a hospital where she was being treated for a brain tumor. Despite her frail condition, transferred her to a detention facility where her hands and feet were bound to a wheelchair. Why did they believe that she would be a danger to the community in her state of health? Did they really think that someone receiving emergency care in a hospital would present a flight risk?

Sara came to the United States from El Salvador 15 months ago. She had been sexually abused, suffered domestic violence and was threatened by El Salvador’s notoriously vicious gangs.

The grave danger facing Sara and her children is evident in Amnesty International’s recent report, Home Sweet Home. It finds that “the struggle for territory between the gangs has left invisible fault lines throughout the countries, which people are not allowed to cross, no matter if their relatives, job or school lies on the other side of these lines.” Furthermore, “the informal rules of conduct established by gangs in the neighbourhoods they dominate frequently leave children confined to their homes out of terror, impinging upon their ability to enjoy their rights to freedom of movement, to education and to recreation and play . . . . everyday decisions like on which road to walk, or whether to attend school, can be a life or death decision.”

While international law does not allow governments to return individuals with a proven credible fear of violence to their countries of origin, our government has done so quite often in the cases of individuals fleeing violence in Central America, resulting in deadly consequences. If she is deported, Sara will be at the mercy of the people who threatened her. Amnesty International found that the Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan governments’ “efforts to protect their returned citizens appeared to end the moment they walked out of the doors of the reception centres and that no effective protection mechanisms were in place.”

Take action to protect Sara. Tell ICE to immediately release Sara on parole and ensure that she receives urgently needed medical attention.