A 26-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor has been released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in Texas.
Sara Beltran Hernandez was detained for 15 months after she fled violence in El Salvador, according to Amnesty International USA. She was released Thursday and was to receive a full medical evaluation later in the evening to "ensure that it's safe for her to travel to New York to be with her family and get the long-term care she needs," according to the human rights organization.
On Feb. 23, Beltran Hernandez was returned to ICE custody at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado after she had spent almost two weeks receiving treatment at the Texas Health Huguley Hospital outside of Fort Worth, The Associated Press reported.
"I feel dizzy, with pain. Heavy eyes. Nausea. If I walk fast, I feel dizzy. Noise really bothers me. 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," Beltran Hernandez told an attorney who visited her at the detention center at the time, according to The AP.
A spokesperson for ICE said that Hernandez had been determined to be stable before she was discharged and sent back to the detention center, The AP reported.
On Jan. 26, an immigration judge had ordered that Hernandez be removed from the U.S., according to The AP. She had entered the country illegally near Hidalgo, Texas on Nov. 7, 2015.
In a statement, Beltran Hernandez thanked Amnesty International USA for assisting her in the release.
"I want to thank Amnesty International activists taking action on my behalf,” she said. “I truly appreciate your support, and your actions made a difference. Because of you, I can now get the medical care I need and be reunited with my family. Thank you."
Amnesty International USA said it hopes Beltran Hernandez's case will inspire the government to change its policies toward illegal immigrants.
“We hope some good can come out of Sara’s nightmarish ordeal, and the federal government will change its policies and stop putting people with asylum claims in detention this way," said Amnesty International USA spokesperson Eric Ferrero. "People fleeing horrific violence to seek asylum in the U.S. should be treated with dignity and compassion, not treated like criminals.”