Skip to content

Obama’s Abuse and Neglect of Babies.

We have represented 3 families that were detained by the Obama administration in Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes City, Texas.

Through hard work and persistence, we were able to get all of our family clients out of jail. The harm done to every child is palpable.

Our first client, which was a young mother and her 14 month old boy born in April of 2013, was severely ill for most of the 72 days that he was detained in Artesia. He was even rushed to the hospital at one point, staying for 3 days and treated for pneumonia.

After weeks of being sick, Mateo became ill with Pneumonia

After weeks of being sick, Mateo became ill with Pneumonia

The doctors at the hospital made it clear that Mateo should “Avoid people with colds & flu.” Yet after his discharge, he was returned to the jail immediately to be exposed to dozens of other children with colds.

ICE exposing a 15 month old baby just treated for Pneumonia to dozens of sick children detained in Artesia.

ICE exposing a 15 month old baby just treated for Pneumonia to dozens of sick children detained in Artesia.

Not surprisingly, Mateo became very sick again. Only days after he was discharged from the hospital after being treated for pneumonia, it appears his lungs became infected again as a cough developed with a fever. He also had diarrhea, again. On August 7, his fever spiked to 103.8 and a nurse practitioner called the doctor to recommend admission to the hospital.

Barely a week after returning from the hospital, Mateo's health starts to deteriorate once again.

Barely a week after returning from the hospital, Mateo’s health starts to deteriorate once again.

High Fever Again

Mateo’s fever spikes to unsafe levels, again.

Mateo was not admitted to the hospital. Instead, he was kept in Artesia and despite having weakened immune system was continually exposed to dozens of other children with colds. His fever persisted for up until August 14, but he never fully recovered until after he was released from detention in early September.

The never-ending Pneumonia.

The never-ending Pneumonia.

When Mateo was first incarcerated in Artesia, he weighed in at 21 pounds.

Before he fled with his mother to the United States, he weighed 25 pounds. The 6 day incarceration in freezing cold holding cells with insufficient food took a toll. He continued to lose weight in Artesia.

The illnesses he suffered took stunted his growth.

At one point, he fell all the way to 19 pounds, putting him in the 11th percentile for his age. He did not gain any weight until August 28 when he weighed 23 pounds.

In fact, doctors at Artesia  noted with concern on July 21 that Mateo had not gained any weight for 21 consecutive days. Indeed, he actually lost weight and did not gain any weight for 60 consecutive days. On August 25, 2014, he weighed only 20.6 pounds yet ICE refused to release him and his mother despite our numerous requests.

When Mateo went to the pediatrician after being released in September, he weighed just 22 pounds. He has gained a significant amount of weight since he got out of jail.

Let me be unequivocal: the Obama administration harmed Mateo by exposing him to an extraordinary risk of infection through incarceration in a jail with hundreds of other children.

The Obama administration harmed him even further when, against the orders of Doctors at the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, they exposed him to other sick children immediately after he was discharged from the hospital after being treated for pneumonia.

Mateo suffered so much while he was in Artesia. He was in almost constant pain, could hardly breathe, and was not growing like a normal baby his age should.

Yet the Obama administration continues to harm hundreds of children in Artesia and Karnes City against well settled child welfare laws.


Our second family client included a 19 month old boy born in January of 2013. Just like Mateo, he became very sick after being placed in the Karnes City jail. He was admitted to the medical clinic housed within the jail for approximately 5 days.

According to his mother, his fever reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit on three consecutive days. She reported that the clinic was freezing cold and that her son was shivering the whole time.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, any fever that goes above 105 degrees Fahrenheit is a life-threatening medical emergency. Yet the baby was not brought to a hospital.

At times, guards refused to supply our client with diapers for her son, creating a health hazard for the child and others around him.

After treatment in the clinic, he was put back in the jail and, like Mateo, again exposed to dozens of children with colds. Fortunately, he did not become acutely ill again. However, he barely ate any food in his 60 days of detention in Karnes. His mother stated that the food was “horrible” and her son only drank breast milk for the entirety of his stint in jail.

Although we do not have the medical records on hand yet, it is clear that he lost a significant percentage of his body weight due to illness and lack of nutrititon in Karnes.

Before he and his mom fled El Salvador, he fit into 3T size clothing. Both his mom and his aunt reported that he was “chunky” in El Salvador. His clothing size now is that of a 12 month old baby. When I saw him this Thursday right after he was released from jail, my first impression was that he was very small.

In this photo taken yesterday, the little boy, who is now 21 months old, is wearing the same shirt and pants that he wore on his way to the United States from El Salvador:

Clear evidence of Obama's abuse of children

As you can see, the little boy’s pants are falling off of him because he lost so much weight in his time in the Karnes City jail.

In the next photo, he is wearing clothes that are meant for a 12 month old:


For those that are unfamiliar with clothing sizes for young children, this boy dropped 3 sizes from 3T down through 2T and 18 months to 12 months.

His mother is not sure how much weight he lost, but she states that he lost 4 pounds at a minimum and possibly more.

His mom stated that her son was very sad for much of the time in jail in Karnes.

This boy was harmed by his time in jail because of illness and inedible food. He should have been growing. Instead, he was shrinking.

If a parent or legal guardian refused to feed their children for 60 days by withholding food, that parent would be committing child neglect, at a minimum, and possibly abuse because of the imminent risk to the life of the child.

Where is the accountability for such grave acts of abuse and neglect of babies?  Does the President get a free pass? The answer so far: Yes.

Apparent shortage of medical staff at Artesia Jail

As of September 26, 2014, ICE appears to be in dire need of additional medical staff at the Artesia jail. Here are the openings if you are in desperate need of a job: pediatrician, family practice physician, psychiatrist, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, vaccination registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant, radiology technician, pharmacist, and pharmacist technician.

Note the sickening marketing pitch in some of the job postings:

Are you interested in caring for displaced immigrants in New Mexico? We are currently seeking a Family Medicine physician to work on a contract in Artesia, New Mexico for a 6-12 month caring for displaced immigrant families.

Has anyone actually investigated whether Artesia has had sufficient medical staff to care for several hundred women and children? I do not think so.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.28.21 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.29.15 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.29.39 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.30.50 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.32.35 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.33.00 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.34 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.36.11 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.37.27 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.37.43 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.37.57 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.39.07 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.39.50 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.39.59 PM

Obama’s Illegal Child Jails

The Obama administration is operating illegal jails in New Mexico and Texas that put the lives of children at risk of serious illness, injury, or death.

The reasoning is simple: the new jails opened in Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes City, Texas  violate important child care regulations by exposing children to an extraordinary risk of becoming seriously ill.

In Texas, a Child Day Care Center cannot admit a child to its care if the child has a temperature above 101 degrees which is accompanied by behavior changes or other signs or symptoms of illness. Day care operators also cannot admit a child if they show signs of severe illness such as lethargy, abnormal breathing, uncontrolled diarrhea, two or more vomiting episodes in 24 hours…or other signs that the child may be severely ill.

In New Mexico, the rules are virtually the same.

Yet in Karnes City, Texas and  Artesia, New Mexico, sick children sleep in the same room as healthy children. The kids share the same space and cannot be sent home to prevent systemic outbreaks of viral and bacterial infections.

It is no wonder that my 17-month old Client, Mateo, had a high fever for 17 straight days in Artesia, New Mexico, resulting in his hospitalization to be treated for pneumonia. After only 2 and a half days in the hospital, Mateo was returned to Artesia, where he became sick again with a high fever for 13 days straight.

There have been sporadic reports regarding the fact that the child jails are not licensed by the States of New Mexico and Texas. This was not an oversight, it was intentional. The Obama administration cannot operate jails for young children and babies without running afoul of important regulations regarding the care of children.

In a detention environment, it would be impossible to effectively insulate the sick from healthy children given that everyone is locked up in the same facility and that children must be given room to play.

As a result, the lives of children and babies are being put at grave risk, Forget policy. This is illegal and must be stopped.

A 4-year-old Victim of Torture in Artesia Jail

I close my eyes and see a little girl, only 4 years old, crying hysterically.

A man, with fury in his eyes,  approaches her and places a hot clothing iron on her hand.

The girl screams and screams and screams.

The man then shoves the girl with such force that her head hits a table, knocking her unconscious for a long time.

Her mother, quietly sobbing, holds her daughter tight but is powerless to protect her from her own father. 

I open my eyes and realize that this little girl, a survivor of torture, has been in jail in Artesia, New Mexico for more than 2 months.

This girl and her mother, also a victim of brutal abuse over several years, were days from being deported back to the place they fled just months ago.

Fortunately, we have temporarily stopped the girl and her mother from being deported to certain harm and possible death.

But how many other little girls and boys will not be lucky. How many will be sent back to torture, to a living hell?


Despite irrefutable evidence that most women, children, and babies jailed in Artesia and Karnes are eligible for asylum, the Obama administration is moving forward with plans to open a massive  (2400 beds) child and baby detention center in Texas.

Who jails babies eligible for asylum or even protection under the convention against torture?

We do.

The Obama administration’s capacity for committing horrible acts in the name of perceived political goals is breathtaking and must be stopped.

For starters, we should insist that the Barack Obama and Jeh Johnson be charged with child abuse and neglect crimes, which they continue to commit with complete impunity.

Watch our 15 year old Guatemalan client defend refugee children on MSNBC

On Tuesday, 3 of our unaccompanied children clients–Dulce Medina, Mayeli Hernandez, and Saul Ortiz– testified about their stories in front of Congress.

We brought the kids to Washington D.C. because we wanted to show  Congress and the rest of the world what we see every day: children fleeing harm who are in desperate need of protection.

Today, Dulce spoke on the Jose Diaz-Balart show on MSNBC to share her story to more Americans. Her and our message is clear: no child should be sent back to a war zone.

Watch 3 of Our Unaccompanied Children Clients Testify Before Congress

Below are the details on when 3 of our unaccompanied children clients will testify before Congress on why they fled their native countries, how they were subjected to unconscionable conditions in the custody of DHS, and why they cannot return.

Additionally, the video below is of Mayeli, one of the children who will testify at the hearing.



July 24, 2014

Press Contacts:

Dan Lindner (Grijalva) – (202) 225-2435

Mike Casca (Ellison) – (202) 225-4755

 Congressional Progressive Caucus Ad-Hoc Hearing

Kids First: Examining the Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis


WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, July 29th at 2:00 PM, the Congressional Progressive Caucus will hold an Ad Hoc Hearing in 2322 RHOB to receive first-hand testimony from unaccompanied minors and expert witnesses stressing the importance of prioritizing the best interests of these children.


The United States and the international community has long recognized the unique needs of children seeking asylum. As an extremely vulnerable population, unaccompanied migrant children need special care and protection. Abrogation or repeal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, including the protections to children arriving from non-contiguous countries, will do nothing to alleviate the situation and could place children in harm’s way.




Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA)

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-MD)

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO)


Panel 1: Children in Crisis:

12 year old child from Honduras

15 year old child from Guatemala

15 year old child from El Salvador


Panel 2: Experts Addressing the Crisis

Jessica Jones, Children and Youth Policy Advocate, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services

Adriana Beltrán, Senior Associate for Citizen Security, Washington Office of Latin America

Megan McKenna, Communications & Advocacy Director, Kids in Need of Defense



Congressional Progressive Caucus Ad Hoc Hearing

Kids First: Examining the Southern Border Humanitarian Crisis



Tuesday, July 29th

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM



2322 Rayburn House Office Building



Dear KIND: No Child Should Be Deported to a War Zone

No child fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras should be deported back to a war zone.

Yet many claim that the only children that should be able to stay in the United States are those that qualify for legal protections. The latter position is unacceptable because it puts the lives of children at risk.

Even if a child has not been harmed or threatened in the past, there is a significant possibility that that child will be harmed upon deportation given that universally violent conditions that are present throughout the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Kids In Need of Defense (“KIND”) is a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America remain in the United States. Their work is necessary and we have great respect for what they do.

However, we must strongly condemn a recent statement that KIND made through social media:

While many unaccompanied children have viable claims for U.S. protection, KIND recognizes that a number of others do not, and that they must return to their home countries.

KIND helps ensure that unaccompanied children are returned safely to Guatemala and that they have access to vital services upon their return.

We cannot return children back to war zones, even if they do not qualify for legal protection in the United States. We must be honest.

Children cannot be returned safely back to places where there is no government to protect them.

As attorneys that represent over 150 unaccompanied children from Central America, we know that a significant number will not ultimately qualify for asylum under U.S. law. We would never tell our children clients to return to Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador, even if the child was denied legal protection in the United States. Why?

Because their home countries are extraordinarily dangerous. Children are routinely gunned down, tortured, raped, or enslaved in territories run by sadistic maniacs. The governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador do not exist. Chaos reigns.

KIND should continue its great work and defend all children from harm. This means that no children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador should be deported.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers