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A neurosurgeon who examined Sara Beltran Hernandez, a 26-year-old mother detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that she is suffering from a pituitary brain tumor that had bled into her brain. Luckily, the current size of the tumor means emergency brain surgery is not required at this time. Sara’s recommended plan of care includes follow-up MRI scans with a qualified neurosurgeon or neurologist approximately every six weeks in order to monitor the size of the tumor, as well as ongoing surveillance for changes in her symptoms. 

Amnesty International and Sara’s lawyers remain deeply concerned, however, that the detention center is not equipped to manage her care, and that the very nature of being detained actually exacerbates her condition –in part due to her extreme sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises, which are unavoidable in detention. 

Sara was taken to her appointments in shackles and had guards in the examination room with her at all times, where they were privy to her intimate health information. Sara did not have an interpreter for her appointment until one was insisted upon by the clinic.

“It is critical that Sara be released from detention so she can get the high level of care she needs with her family in New York,” said Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA spokesperson. “She poses no threat, has family that can provide for her, and has been stuck in detention long enough. With this prognosis, any attempt to keep her in detention would be cruel and inhumane.”

“Sara and thousands like her who are fleeing unspeakable violence and cannot return to their homes should not automatically be treated like criminals for seeking safety in the United States. We will continue to fight policies proposed by President Trump that would greatly increase the number of people being warehoused or denied a fair hearing before an immigration judge.”

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.

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.