• Press Release

Amnesty International USA Launches Campaign to Free Young Mother Detained by ICE for 15 Months

February 24, 2017

MEDIA CONTACT: Mandy Simon, [email protected]

(NEW YORK, NY) – Amnesty International USA is launching a campaign today urging Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release a 26-year-old woman on parole so she can obtain urgent medical treatment and be with her family. AIUSA is mobilizing its over 1.2 million U.S. members and supporters to call ICE and the Department of Homeland Security and demand that she be released while her request for asylum is reviewed.

Sara Beltran Hernandez fled gang violence and domestic violence in El Salvador to live with relatives in the U.S., and has been held in ICE detention for 15 months, despite having a claim to asylum. Under U.S. law and international law, people coming to the U.S. can seek asylum if they fear for their safety in their home country, and their human rights must be protected while their claims are being reviewed. Sara collapsed in jail earlier this month and was denied contact with her legal team and family while in the hospital for days. Sara is now awaiting an appointment with neurosurgeon after being returned to a detention facility. 

“Sara should never have been detained this long to begin with, let alone locked up while suffering a serious medical emergency,” said Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA spokesperson. “She must get the medical care she needs immediately, and be allowed to recover with her family while her asylum claim is reviewed.”

“In the face of President Trump’s aggressive immigration orders, we will fight to ensure that people with asylum claims are given a fair hearing and humane treatment. People like Sara who are seeking asylum for horrific violence should not be treated like criminals while their cases are processed. We must do everything we can to ensure protection for people who are fleeing violence.”

AIUSA sent a letter to DHS on Feb. 22 emphasizing that detention should only be used by immigration officials as a last resort, and parole should be granted to those who are suffering from medical emergencies and pose no flight risk. The letter says Sara fits these parameters and should be released from detention immediately.