Stories out of Natchez

Remember this?

As we began to publicly denounce how women were being denied proper medical care at Karnes County Residential Center, ICE transferred over 1,000 of them to various detention facilities across the country in October.

Well, we found them.

After weeks of checking the online ICE Detainee Locator & calling their families we located all but 87.

So we sent a group of attorneys to Adams County Correctional Center (ACCC) in Natchez, Mississippi where many of the women we worked with have been transferred.

Our team drove 8 hours from San Antonio, Texas to meet our clients in Natchez, a small town with about 15,000 people. With the closest airport being an hour and a half away, there are added complications for people seeking legal help.

ACCC now detains non-citizens for ICE – including asylum-seekers – in prison conditions. The rooms have no heating. The week of our visit, temps were as low as 22°F. The women sleep on metal bunk beds with a thin mattress on top. There is no ladder leading to the top bunk.

On top of these horrible physical conditions, the women also lack access to counsel. The nearest immigration attorney is 2 hrs away and the nearest non-profit legal provider about an hour and a half away. They have thus been unable to reach any of them despite multiple attempts.

Beyond lack of access to legal counsel, the women report that they don’t know who their Deportation Officer is. This is a crucial piece of information, as this is the person who should be their main point of contact from ICE regarding their immigration case.

ICE transferred our clients out of Karnes and to Mississippi with little or no notice.

They were woken up at 3 am and shackled by their ankles, wrists, and waist on buses and planes until they arrived at ACCC. In transit, their hands remained chained while they ate & used the bathroom.

Before the transfer, various news outlets covered the poor medical treatment at Karnes. Sadly these issues persist at their new location.

The following are testimonials from the women now locked inside ACCC, detailing their lack of medical access:

  • Jackie* was the victim of a violent rape in her home country that left her with severe abdominal pain and untreated PTSD. After 2 weeks and several requests to see a doctor, Jackie was given only aspirin. She has still not received proper psychological care for her PTSD.
  • Laura* is a 24-year-old Honduran woman seeking asylum in the US. While meeting with attorneys, Laura had such intense abdominal pain that she was unable to sit up throughout the meeting. A nurse told her she suffers from endometriosis but they’ve done nothing to help her.
  • Another woman suffers from complications after a brain tumor surgery she received in Venezuela. She saw a specialist in detention, but without an interpreter was unable to understand or communicate with the doctor. Her lack of information makes her feel powerless and afraid.

These women have already passed their initial asylum-screening interviews. ICE’s decision to continue their detention is cruel and unnecessary. The sooner they are out, the sooner they can access the medical care they so desperately need.

As we enter the holiday season, we’re grateful for these women’s resilience and willingness to advocate for themselves and others. Their strength inspires our fight.

That’s why we’re asking for your support. Sign our petition to free these women.

These women NEED to be out of detention for the holidays. Many of them have serious & untreated medical issues that will only worsen in prolonged detention.

UPDATE 12/18/19

Thanks to our supporters we overshot our goal of 5,000 petition signatures!

The pro-bono attorney working with RAICES was able to present the signatures along with their case and 15 of the women were granted bond! We will continue working until all women are bonded out and can receive the care they need to be healthy and safe.