San Antonio, TX – Federal immigration officials agreed on Friday to release a Salvadoran asylum seeker who was denied adequate medical care while detained at a Texas immigration detention facility, according to her attorneys.
The decision by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release Laura Monterrosa-Flores came after MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed a federal lawsuit seeking her release from the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, where she had been held since last May. Monterrosa-Flores attempted suicide in January after being denied treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Following testimony in the federal court hearing on MALDEF’s preliminary injunction request on Tuesday, ICE agreed to pay for and transport Monterrosa-Flores to and from mental health treatment appointments with an off-site therapist. On Friday, DHS agreed to release her under deferred action, which provides individuals temporary relief from deportation.
“Today marks a turning point in Ms. Monterrosa-Flores’ life,” said Jack Salmon, MALDEF staff attorney and counsel for Monterrosa-Flores at her federal court hearing. “Her fortitude serves as an example for other women struggling to secure adequate health care in detention.”
Monterrosa-Flores’s case was yet another chapter in Hutto’s notorious history of mistreating detainees. A former state prison, it was repurposed as an immigrant family detention center that was the subject of a lawsuit for failing, among other claims, to provide adequate health care and educational opportunities for children. That suit resulted in a settlement that set new government standards for detention facilities.
Hutto was later converted to house only adult immigrant women, but the abuse of detainees continued. An ICE officer was fired in 2007 for having sex with a female detainee in her cell, and widespread allegations of sexual assault surfaced after a guard was charged in 2009 with assaulting women he was transporting.