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Our Request: Discipline Physicians at Dilley Children Jail.

The letter is below,

October 1, 2015

By E-mail and First Class Mail

Texas Medical Board

333 Guadalupe

Tower 3, Suite 610

RE: Request To Discipline Dr. Rochelle Flynn, MD (License No. N3643); Dr. Rosa Colon, MD( License No. BP10045161) Dr. Adolfo Carvajal, MD (License No. J8497); Dr. Luis Ortega, MD (None in Texas); and Dr. Benjamin Aguilar, PhD (License No. 33718) for inflicting severe physical and mental harm on their detained 12-year-old patient.

Dear Sir or Madam:

 

I am the attorney for the above-referenced12 year old child and write this complaint on his behalf.

The above-referenced physicians and psychologist used their licenses to practice medicine to authorize their employer, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to detain our 12-year-old client despite the incontrovertible evidence that it was causing him extreme mental and physical pain and suffering.

Each physician that treated our client affirmatively represented that he was “medically cleared for custody” when he should have never been cleared for custody given that he is a child.

In the account follows, time and time again the physicians were obligated to recommend the child’s release from detention with his mother as part of a treatment plan for his health. They never did. This is a horrifying story of what happens when a physician abandons their duty to advocate for the best health interests of their client by choosing to obey the interests of an employer—ICE—to detain children for as long as necessary even if it results in serious harm to the child’s health.

The Physicians

Dr. Flynn and Dr. Carvajal are pediatricians licensed to practice medicine the State of Texas. Dr. Rosa Colon’s license to practice medicine in Texas was terminated on July 29, 2012. Dr. Luis Ortega is not licensed to practice medicine in the State of Texas. Dr. Benjamin Aguilar is a licensed to practice psychology in the State of Texas.

All of the healthcare professionals subject to this complaint work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the direct supervision of the “ICE Health Service Corps” (IHSC) at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), a sprawling detention camp that detains over 2000 undocumented mothers and children. The sole purpose of STFRC is to enable ICE to deport as many mothers and children as possible

Dr. Jon Robert Krohmer, MD (License No. D75335) licensed to practice medicine in the State of Maryland, is IHSC’s Chief physician. The mission statement of IHSC—“We protect America by providing health care and public services in the support of immigration law enforcement.”—inherently contradicts the duty of physicians to advocate for the best health interests of their patients: [1]

  1. The Child’s Diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety

Our client is a 12-year-old boy who fled his native country due to severe persecution, torture, suffered by himself and his mother He was transferred to STFRC on May 24, 2015, and seen for a screening that same day.

One week later, Georgia L Cameron, LCSW, evaluated him for a wellness check and noted that: “This resident is not doing well. His mother states that he witnessed DV but did not discuss further. Resident was crying, clinging to his mother, picking at this [sic] fingers and appeared to be traumatized and frightened. Mother says he is eating but not sleeping and has nightmares.”

On June 5, the child Posttraumatic stress disorder , 309.81(Primary) (PTSD) by Dr. Benjamin Aguilar, PhD, whose notes read, in part: “…that ex partner held her without allowing her to leave, at times tying her to a chair which resident witnessed.” He concluded that the abuse he experienced and witnessed caused “him to feel anxious about his safety, be tearful throughout the day, and have disrupted sleep.” In a follow up interview with our office, we discovered that the child’s mother was tied to the chair so that the ex partner could cut the hands of the child and make her powerless to protect her own son.

Dr. Aguilar’s did not recommend that the child be released from custody as part of his written treatment plan.

On June 10, 2015, Dr. Rosa Colon, MD, evaluated the child due to, in part, a jittering incident that his mother believed was caused by anxiety. Dr. Colon wrote at the end of her note, “Medically cleared for custody, follow up visit scheduled.”

On June 13, 2015, the child was treated for an emergency incident. Dr. Adolfo Carvajal, MD, and Albert Quinones, RN, saw him “…sitting in sofa breathing normally, talking when asked what was going on patient states his hands and feet feel numb…”He was assessed with Acute pain and Anxiety and told to drink more fluids.

Dr. Carvajal did not recommend that the child be release from custody as part of his written treatment plan.

On June 16, 2015, Dr. Rochelle Flynn diagnosed our client with “dizziness and giddiness; asthma; and Posttraumatic Stress disorder.” Her treatment plan for the PTSD was to notify Mental Health of his visit to her.

Dr. Flynn did not recommend that the child be released from custody as part of her written treatment plan.

On June 19, 2015, Dr. Benjamin Aguilar wrote extensive notes on proposed treatment: “Noted to mother and resident that his increased anxiety may be related to a worry about mother’s overall health, which was confirmed by resident who began to cry and noted that he worries that mother will die.”

Dr. Aguilar did not recommend as part of his written treatment that the child be released from custody.

On June 26, 2015, Dr. Benjamin Aguilar wrote, “Noted to mother and resident that resident’s anxiety may exacerbate existing breathing and allergy difficulties.” Dr. Aguilar plan of treatment for his patient included advice to “express his feeling via poems, writing, and drawings” but did not recommend release of the child from detention.

A week later, Dr. Aguilar’s own notes hint at the principal underlying cause—detention and the constant fear of return to past trauma that it invokes—of the child’s acute and potentially life-threatening symptoms stemming from his severe PTSD and Anxiety, describing the mother and boy as “much more hopeful and less stressed now that they received a positive outcome on their asylum interview.”

On July 8, 2015, Dr. Rochelle Flynn saw the child due to episodes of him feeling “dizzy and disoriented” followed by his legs and hand feeling numb. The mother noted that he had numerous lesions that have been denuded by scratching, all over extremities…He is very itchy…He was assessed with allergic rhinitis, extrinsic asthma, rash and other nonspecific eruption.

On July 17, 2015, Dr. Luis Ortega evaluated the child for “a fever, chills, and sore thought. The pain of swallowing was described as very painful, a 6-7 out of 10 on a pain scale. The child was diagnosed with acute pharyngitis, suspected strep, and he was immediately prescribed an antibiotic. Dr. Ortega affirmatively wrote that the child “medically cleared for custody.”

At 2:29 am on July 18, 2015, an emergency call was made “regarding spiking fever…if fever persists post 1 hour of Ibuprofen administration of 101 +, administer weight based acetaminophen, monitor for at least 1 hour for stabilizations and release to neighborhood once stabilized…”

His illness became worse. In the evening, he “woke up…choking…reported pain and numb feeling in his legs and could not walk to clinic. Medical went out to bring client in. Fever was stabilized, pain decreased to manageable, and client returned to general population.

In the same notes, Janinea Shelton, RN wrote on his fever: “variable will spike quickly, drop down then spike again.” His temperature was recorded as up to 104.8 degrees. The child’s mother stated that his fever reached 115. He was diagnosed with Acute Pain and Anxiety, Ineffective Thermoregulation, Risk for infection, Risk for fluid volume deficit, Risk for nutrition less than body requirement.

However, Ms. Shelton and her supervising physician, Dr. Flynn, wrote that the child was “medically cleared for custody with a follow up visit.”

His conditions did not improve hours later. The child reported the pain from his throat as 10 out of 10, and was vomiting some of the medication given to him. His strep throat test resulted in negative but he was continued with an anti-biotic.

In the afternoon of July 18, the child was sent to the center’s medical health unit due to his ongoing fever, which was recorded at 102.4 at the time of evaluation. He was assessed with Anxiety as well.

One hour later Dr. Rochelle Flynn discontinued the prescription of antibiotics due to strep test being negative, diagnosing him now with an unspecified viral infection. She noted that “he is the same presentation as numerous others with viral infection” and that

“Patient has a very significant history of anxiety and PTSD, hyperventilating episodes, numbness in hands/feet/legs. Currently with viral syndrome that is going around with HA, fever, S, body aches. He is x2 today with fever but will not walk, shaking with anxiety, talking fast and upset. Given all of his very uncomfortable anxiety episodes, I think he would benefit greatly from SSRI treatment. He also would benefit from frequent coping skills and counseling, if not already.”

Dr. Flynn did not recommend that he would benefit from being released from detention.

On July 19, Dr. Flynn medically cleared the child for custody and release into the general population of STFRC. Dr. Flynn discharged him from the Medical Health unit at 9 am with “no further recommendations” other than plenty off fluids and counseling with Dr. Aguilar regarding his PTSD.

It is important to point out that Dr. Flynn cleared the child for release from isolation in the STFRC’s Medical Health Unit to general population despite only a day earlier finding him at risk of further infection.

His last medical record comes from Dr. Aguilar, who concluded in his treatment plan on July 21, 2015 that: “Mother reported that they will likely be released this week, which has caused her and resident to feel more hopeful and euthymic.

Dr. Aguilar did not recommend that the child be released as part of his written treatment plan.

  1. Complicity in Inflicting Severe Mental and Physical Pain On Patient

The extensive medical records show the treating physicians knew that the only treatment plan that would effectively address our client’s symptoms of physical paralysis, pain, and acute infection caused and exacerbated, respectively, by the real and constant threat of a return to the severe trauma he experienced in his native country was that the child be released from detention.

Yet at no point did any medical professional recommend that the child be released from detention. Instead, the physicians were desperate to satisfy the goals of their employer, ICE, which was and remains to create the illusion of adequate medical care by acting as a paramedic to maintain a patient in critical condition.

If any of the physicians had affirmatively stated to their employer that the child was not cleared for custody, ICE would have been obligated to release the child under the law, including the U.S. Constitution.[2]

Children are extraordinarily vulnerable to harm in detention given that they are just children. In a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that the academy was “concerned…that the continued detainment of any children and mothers in existing facilities puts them at greater risk for physical and mental health problems and unnecessarily exposes children and mothers to additional psychological trauma.” She continued by stating “the act of detention or incarceration itself is associated with poorer health outcomes, higher rates of psychological distress, and suicidality making the situation for already vulnerable children even worse.”[3]

In the United States, children in the custody of their parents or others are entitled to be provided with adequate medical care. If a parent or other custodian repeatedly fail to provide adequate medical care, they will lose custody of the child.

The physicians at STFRC should be barred from treating children in the custody of their employer for the same reason: they are committing neglect by enabling ICE to detain children which is concretely harmful to their physical and mental health. Our client’s case is a damning example.

Dr. Flynn’s desperation to fulfill her employer’s goals was reflected by her recommendation that the child be administered “SSRIs”, or Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly known as anti-depressant drugs with names like Prozac, Lexapro, Celea, Luvox, or Zoloft , to slow down the constant terror that the child experienced every day in detention. The rash jump to prescribing such powerful drugs in lieu of an available and better alternative—freedom—could have had drastic consequences: numerous studies have found that children who take SSRI’s are at a higher risk of suicidal tendencies than adults.

Dr. Flynn also acknowledged that his anxiety and PTSD were exacerbating the symptoms associated with his viral infection.

If a child suffers from a life-threatening fever, a reasonable parent would immediately bring that child to an pediatric hospital emergency room, if available.

The physicians at STFRC acted far below the standard of professional care by transferring the child to a clinic setting overseen by non-physicians for monitoring. At most developed hospital settings, there is always a physician on premises in the event of acute cases that become life threatening. Our client’s fever was life threatening. He had lost the ability thermoregulate. Based on the medical records and our client’s mother’s statement, the child’s fever peaked at 115.

At the earliest sign of the child’s convalescence from his viral infection, Dr. Flynn discharged him back into a community environment shared by thousands of young children and mothers. Given the shared living environment and his recovering immune system, he was exposed to an extraordinary risk of re-infection.

iii. Convicted Felons in Texas Treated Better Than Children at STFRC.

Long-term detention of children on such a massive scale for the purposes of their deportation is unprecedented in Texas, and as such there is a regulatory black hole. The closest equivalent to compare is the correctional early-release statute for individuals convicted of serious crimes.

Section 508.146 of Title 4, Subtitle G of the Texas State Code, provides for early release under supervision for inmates who are elderly, physically disabled, mentally ill, terminally ill, or mentally retarded or having a condition requiring long-term care, as long as the parole board determines that the inmate does not pose a risk to the public.[4]

There is no statute or regulation that regulates an orderly procedure for release of children detained in the custody of ICE. If there were, every child would qualify for release given that their status as children makes them in need of specialized care—freedom from constant fear and infections that pervade the STFRC.

The Physicians Who Used Their Medical Licenses to Inflict Harm on Our client Must Be Disciplined and Directed To Recommend Release from Custody of all Children at STFRC Or Have Their Licenses Immediately Suspended

Physicians are supposed to improve the health of their patients. The physicians at the STFRC are worsening the health of their children patients by stating to ICE and the world that they are medically cleared for detention. Children can never be medically cleared for detention. In our client’s case, actions of the doctors were so far below the standard of adequate medical care that it resulted in the child suffering extreme physical and mental pain for nearly 3 months.

The politics or policy of immigration law, refugees, or asylum seekers has no bearing whatsoever on the duty of a physician to advocate for the best health interests of their patient. It is black and white. As such, I urge you to take immediate disciplinary action against the physicians Dr. Rochelle Flynn, MD; Dr. Adolfo Carvajal, MD; Dr. Rosa Dubon, MD; Dr. Luis Ortega, MD; and Dr. Benjamin Aguilar, PhD.[5]

Please find attached evidence in support of this complaint:

  1. Copy of child’s medical records while in ICE custody;
  2. Copy of Letter From American Academy of Pediatricians;
  3. Copy of Affidavit of Dr. Luis Zayas, PhD; and
  4. Copy of New York Times News Article.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Very Truly Yours,

Bryan S. Johnson, Esq.

CC:

Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists

333 Guadalupe, Suite 2-450

Austin, Texas 78701

Maryland Board of Physicians

INTAKE UNIT

4201 Patterson Avenue

Baltimore, MD 21215

[1] Physicians for Human Rights, Dual Loyalties in U.S. Immigration Detention, March 28, 2011. http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/asylum/dual-loyalties-immigration-detention.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

[2] Julia Preston, U.S. Judge Increases Pressure on U.S. to Release Migrant Families, August 22, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/us/judge-increases-pressure-on-us-to-release-migrant-families.html?_r=0

[3] See https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/federal-advocacy/Documents/AAP%20Letter%20to%20Secretary%20Johnson%20Family%20Detention%20Final.pdf; and affidavit of Dr. Luis H. Zayas, Phd, the Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, who interviewed several children at the family detention center located in Karnes City, Texas, https://lofgren.house.gov/uploadedfiles/declaration_of_luis_zayas.pdf

[4] http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.508.htm

[5] A copy of this complaint has been concurrently sent to Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists

In El Salvador 68 children abandon school each day due to violence

From La Prensa Grafica, and translated by our office. This story provides strong evidence that in El Salvador children are being singled out for persecution by non-state actors who are in midst of a war against El Salvador’s government.

“68 STUDENTS ABANDON SCHOOL EVERY DAY DUE TO CRIME.”

August 26, 2015, Ricardo Flores,

http://www.laprensagrafica.com/2015/08/26/68-estudiantes-abandonan-la-escuela-cada-dia-por-la-delincuencia

Archived in Crime, Desertion, Desertion due to Crime, Education, Insecurity, MINED, Violence.

Ivan put his notebooks in a gray backpack and threw them in the back of a pickup rented by his father for the move. Hours earlier, a group of gang members had ordered the families where he lives to abandon the community forever. To Ivan (a false name), of 12 years, it was that day in 2014, in addition to fleeing the gangs, that he abandoned his studies in the 6th grade.

Maria (changed name), one of the teachers who taught classes to Ivan, that she was with him when the family fled one of the most populated zones in the metropolitan area of San Salvador. “I arrived with the intention to convince Ivan’s parents not to leave, so that the child would not have to stop studying; but on seeing all of the people packing up their things I understood that the fear of being murdered was greater than any argument. I chose to keep my mouth shut.

Ivan was one of the 20,372 students, from primary school to high school, that deserted school en 2014 alleging “crime” as a cause of the abandonment, according to what was gathered in a report by the Ministry of Education (MINED) created with data from a census of 6,062 schools, which included both public and private ones. If only the time of one school year is counted (from January 15 to November 10, an average of 68 students abandoned school every day due to crime in that year.

In spite of this high statistic, this can grow even much more because, according to teachers and directors of various schools interviewed, it is difficult to know with certainty the reason for the desertion.

The document of MINED lists the reasons for abandonment as follows: change of address, 65,432; other causes, 12, 482, crime, 20,372, went to other school, 17,668, abandonment of country; 16,344; parents no longer wanted to the child to attend school any longer, 12,266. All of the reasons together sum up to 153,564. That represents 80.6 percent of the students that left school in 2014 from primary school to high school: 190-,581. However, the report of Education states that many students returned to register in other schools; for that reason official number of desertions for the past year was 100,851 students at all of the levels.

The minister of the agency, Carlos Canjura, said that he is conscience of the insecurity problem that affects the country and ass such affects the education community as well. However, he prefers to wait more time to be able to speak with certainty regarding desertion due to crime.

“I am not avoiding the grand problem that we have as a nation regarding the theme of the violence and that it affects schools, said the minister yesterday on being consulted about abandonment of the students from the schools.

Furthermore, he reiterated that the ministry does not have “evidence to state that this child left due to violence. I am not saying that they do not leave for those reasons, but I am saying that it is one of the reasons and maybe the strongest in the country” he added.

How was abandonment registered?

Up until the past year, the directors of the schools completed an exercise in collecting the causes that pushes their students to stop attending classes. They noted them in a formula of a half page size with three blank spaces where they wrote the name of the student, year in which the student left school, and the supposed reason for the desertion.

This last space is filled with what the student or his parents said on the day they arrived to retrieve the school records from the institution. No one has investigated to see if this testimony is true.

Every year, the Ministry of Education conducts a school census in which those reasons are compiled together and it is attempted to find an explanation as to the high desertion.

Canjura said that this year they used a different registry to determine each month the quantity of children that abandoned schools.

The MINED, further, has plans to create a tool which will permit them to track each student starting with when they entered the education system. In that way, it is hoped to know with certainty if the student re-registered in a different school after leaving one school.

Directors of schools recognize that the insecurity of the education community has provoked the abandonment of classes for many young people; nevertheless, they indicate that the majority of the cases of assault occur in zones where the students live and not in the interiors of the school. A reality that Ivan had to live only at the age of 12.

Maria, one of the teachers of the teen, remembers him with the hope that he has continued studying because “only the education can win the battle against crime.”

We Are Watching You, the Persecutors of Refugee Children.

To the men and women in the United States Government and other entities who are complicit in the commission of crimes against thousands of children in jails located in Texas and Pennsylvania:

We are watching you.

We know that you know you are committing crimes against vulnerable children.

We know that the White House knows it is sending children to their death in Central America.

We will hold you accountable. We will not stop. Justice will be had, however long it may take.

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The Physicians That Make Incarceration of Toddlers and Children Possible

A Pediatrician at the Dilley children jail earns about $230,000.00 annually.

A Pediatrician at the Dilley children jail earns about $230,000.00 annually.

The below list was obtained from the names of physicians on a clients’ medical record and search results on the Texas State Medical Board public search tool. Following the list you will see the actual information provided by the State of Texas on these physicians and assistants:

Dr. Rochelle Flynn, MD. (Pediatrician)

Dr. Adolfo Carvajal, MD. (Pediatrician)

Dr. Alicia E. Mills, MD. (Pediatrician)

Dr. Rosa I. Colon. (Physician permit in Texas listed as terminated as of 07/29/2012)

Dr. Luis Ortega. (Does not appear as licensed to practice medicine in the State of Texas.)

Elizabeth Valdivia Carmona, Physicians Assistant.

An Nguyen, Pharmacist.

Dale Weaver, Physicians Assistant.

Peter Ibarra, Physicians Assistant.

Dr. Benjamin Aguilar, PhD.

Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD. (Licensed in Maryland. Chief supervisory physician of children in family detention)

Dr. Daniel Padilla Diaz, PhD. (In charge of mental health care of children detained at the Karnes jail, and alleged to have participated in grave professional misconduct as well as criminal activity in tampering with government records as described by a whistleblower.)

ICE must first obtain a “medically cleared for custody” determination from a person licensed to practice medicine in Texas before incarcerating a child.

The next list to be published will be registered nurses.

List of Physicians part 1

List of Physicians Part 2

Chief ICE Physician, Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD.

Chief ICE Physician, Dr. Jon Krohmer, MD.

Dr. Daniel Padilla Diaz, PhD.

Dr. Daniel Padilla Diaz, PhD.

President Obama’s Unlawful Campaign to Deport Every Central American Refugee Child

The haunting photo of a drowned Syrian toddler is apparently what is required to pass the President’s threshold for a perfunctory show of morality.

Why so cynical? Because every day since the summer of 2014 we have been on the front lines defending hundreds of Central American refugee children against President Obama’s relentless, unlawful, and aggressive campaign to deport every child who fled to the U.S. after May of 2014.

A rushed letter we sent to the asylum office provides a brief snapshot of how the President has willfully deprived unaccompanied children their Constitutional and statutory rights in applying for protection under United States Law.

Below you will also see a quarter by quarter break down of asylum approval rates from Fiscal Year 2014 through the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2015.

President Obama should not only be ashamed, but concerned that he and members of his administration will be subject to criminal prosecution after his term ends for such brazen disregard of U.S. laws that exist solely to protect vulnerable children from serious harm or death in their home countries.

To DOJ: Investigate DHS officials for Federal Crime of Conspiracy Against Rights in Family Detention

For Immediate Release

Contact: Bryan Johnson, Bryan@amjolaw.com, 631-647-9701                                           July 6, 2015

REQUEST TO DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Investigate DHS for federal crimes of Conspiracy Against Rights; Kidnapping; and Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law Against Lilian Oliva Bardales and her 4-year-old son in Family Detention. 

In the afternoon of June 3, 2015, our client Lilian locked herself in her dormitory bathroom, wrote a suicide note, and then attempted to kill herself by cutting her wrist with her broken U.S. government-issued identification card.

From June 3 to the day Lilian and her son were deported to Honduras on June 9, two or more DHS and GEO officials made a plan and executed it: she and her son would be deported even if it meant committing federal crimes.

From June 3 to June 5, Lilian was forced to strip all of her clothing, wear a straitjacket,  remain locked up in a solitary confinement cell, and forbidden to see her son or meet or speak with an attorney. She was also deprived of any meaningful mental health treatment.

The request below, sent by email on July 3 and by U.S. mail today, lays out the facts as told by Lilian and other direct witnesses to the events of June 3 to June 9.

An investigation into the events of June 3 to June 9 must take place. In order for this to happen, DHS must parole Lilian and her son back into the United States.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

July 4, 2015

Robert Moossy Jr.

Section Chief, Criminal Section

Civil Rights Division

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

RE: Request For Investigation into Possible Federal Crimes of Kidnapping, 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1); Conspiracy Against Rights 18 U.S.C. § 241; and Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, 18 U.S.C. § 242.

 

Dear Honorable Mr. Moossy Jr.:

We represent Lilian Yamileth Oliva Bardales (A # 206-769-267) and her son, Christian (202-127-486), who are 19 and 4-years-old, respectively. We hereby request that the Criminal Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division appoint special counsel to investigate the actions of one or more officials in the Department of Homeland Security and the GEO Group, Inc from June 3, 2015 to June 9, 2015 that resulted in severe physical and mental suffering of Lilian and her son as well as their removal from the United States without any due process of law.

We also request that the U.S. Department of Justice demand that DHS immediately parole Lilian and Christian into the United States so that a thorough investigation can be conducted.

Facts

 Lilian and her child were removed from the United States on June 9, 2015 after being detained for over 8 months at the Karnes County Residential Center (“KCRC.”) The following information was obtained through several direct telephone conversations between the undersigned and Lilian, as well as with other direct witnesses to the events.

In the afternoon of June 3, 2015, Lilian locked herself in her dormitory bathroom, wrote a suicide note, and then attempted to kill herself by cutting her wrist with her broken U.S. government-issued identification card.

One of her roommates found her in the bathroom bleeding and called for help. Several GEO officials, including at least one nurse, came to see what happened. Another GEO official brought a handheld video camera and recorded the encounter with Lilian. There was not a significant amount of blood.

Lilian was immediately brought to small cell within the medical unit, which is a series of rooms wholly separated from the general dormitories at the KCRC. Her wound was disinfected and covered with a bandage. GEO officials ordered her to remove all of her clothing. She refused initially, but GEO officials threatened to rip her clothes off if she did not do it herself. GEO officials stated that the removal of her clothing was for her own safety. Lilian was then ordered to put on a straitjacket, which severely restricted her range of movement and ability to sleep over the next 2 days. When she was first transferred to the isolation room, officials told her that there were rules to be followed and that she needed to learn to follow them.

She was not at any point transferred to a hospital for treatment.

Lilian was isolated in this small cell with a straitjacket until the evening of Friday, June 5. A GEO official observed her for the entirety of her stay there through a window at the entrance to the cell. The lights remained on at full power for her entire stay in the cell. She asked GEO officials to turn off the light but her request was denied. She barely ate anything in those two days. The only meal provided to her—spoiled ham sandwiches—was inedible.

The only nutrition she received in those 2 days in the isolation cell was a pear and some juice. Although Lilian did not want to eat any of the food given to her, she relented when GEO officials warned her that she would not see her son if she did not eat. In those two days, Lilian barely slept due to the severe cold; discomfort caused by the straitjacket, which had no insulation to prevent loss of body heat; and the bed made of plastic that “felt like a rock.”

Lilian did not receive any mental health treatment in the isolation cell. She did not see a mental health professional until after 7 am on June 4. She was brought to another medical isolation room where a Spanish-speaking woman, purportedly a psychiatrist, appeared via internet video. The “treatment” provided was an interrogation. The woman on the video asked Lilian why she hurt herself, that it was not right, and that an attorney told her to do it to herself. When Lilian denied that anyone had told her to harm herself, the woman became more aggressive, demanding further to know who had instructed Lilian to hurt herself and warning her that she could not change the decision of immigration by what she did.

Lilian responded by telling the woman that she did not know the problems that the families have in detention and that she had been in jail with her son for 8 months. “You have not suffered what we have here,” Lilian told her. The woman responded, “I understand, but you will not be helped if you try to kill yourself, you will not change your fate. We will give you medicine. This medicine is only for you to relax, so that you do not feel sad.”

Lilian was not given any medicine until the morning of June 6, a Saturday. From there, she took one additional pill in the evening and again twice the following day, June 7. The only effect the pills had was to make her sleepy.

The nurses brought Lilian to her son’s room, which was also in the medical unit. He was sleeping when she entered his room. When he woke up, the first thing he asked was for was a bath. He smelled bad because he had been washed for 2 days. He wanted a bath and asked that his teeth be brushed immediately, because the women he was with had not cleaned him or anything but changed his clothes. His dirty clothes were in a pile on the ground in his room. Christian asked his mom if he could eat something from the commissary, such as soup, but Lilian told him that she could not go there because they were not in their normal room.

After only one hour with Christian, Lilian was directed to leave her son’s room and return to hers. She heard her son crying and crying. Before she left for the night, Christian begged his mom so he could sleep with her. Before her suicide attempt, Christian slept in the same bed with his mother in their dormitory room. One night, she yelled out to him and asked why he was crying. Christian said that he was sad because the woman who was watching him left. Christian reported to his mom afterwards that he was left alone at night for long periods of time, and a nurse came to check on him every so often.

On June 4, 2015, ICE officials brought an official from the Honduran consulate to speak to Lilian. In the conversation with the Honduran official, Lilian asked for her help in getting out of the isolation room. Lilian did not request that the official issue travel documents for her removal to Honduras. Around the same time, several ICE officials came to the room and asked her how she felt. She told them that she was doing badly, and what they were doing to my child and me was wrong. The same officials asked her whether she had any family in the United States. She responded that she did not. However, she also informed ICE that she had family friends in Brentwood, New York that were willing to care for her and her son if she was released from detention.

Lilian was barred from meeting any of her attorneys from June 3 to June 9, despite her numerous requests to do so. Her only communication with an attorney, Fatima Menendez, was for a brief 10 minutes on or about June 5. In that conversation, Fatima told Lilian that GEO and ICE claimed that she was receiving medical treatment. Fatima further told Lilian not to sign anything.

One of her attorneys, Javier Maldonado, was prepared to file a petition for review and emergency stay of removal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Lilian and Christian’s behalf. However, his requests to meet with her were summarily denied from June 3 to June 9. He could not file any paperwork with the 5th circuit because the documents necessary to do so were in Lilian’s possession.

On June 7, all phone access was cut off at approximately 4 pm, according to a detained mother who is now released. The same witness reported that the internet access was also cut off at around the same time. When the mother asked GEO staff why the phones were not working, she was told it was a maintenance issue.

Phone access was not restored until 10 am on June 8, 2015, after Lilian and the three other families had already been transferred out of the KCRC to the motel 6.

On June 4, 2015, I asked Mr. James De La Cruz, a Senior Federal Field Specialist Supervisor in the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Children’s Services Program, whether DHS had transferred any unaccompanied minor children from the KCRC to ORR custody in the last 24 hours. I followed up this request in writing through e-mail.

Mr. De La Cruz inquired regarding Christian with ICE’s Juvenile Family Residential Management Unit (JFRMU), the entity in charge of transfers of UAC’s to ORR custody. On June 8, 2015, I followed up with Jacqueline Du Puy, ORR’s Lead Intakes Program Specialist, to determine if DHS ever responded to their inquiry regarding Christian. She wrote back: “We have followed up with DHS and have not heard anything.”

On June 8, ICE officials took Lilian and her son from KCRC at approximately 5 am and were then transferred to a Motel 6 with 3 other Honduran families. Lilian did not know that she was going to be removed until this exact moment. When she realized she was going to be deported, she collapsed. ICE officials told her that she would be taken tied up if necessary and then she would lose her son if she did not cooperate. At the Motel 6, ICE officials stood guard outside of her room while she and Christian were detained inside a room for the entire day.

In a conversation with Deportation Officer Gabriel Pacheco, the undersigned inquired into why Christian was not transferred to the custody of HHS given that he was an unaccompanied minor. Mr. Pacheco responded that he had been “close” to his mother. However, Christian had no contact whatsoever with his mother for 3 complete days and then only 2 hours out of 48 hours in the last two days he was detained at KCRC.

ICE’s conduct towards Christian differs significantly from what occurred in a similar case of a woman and child, who are also clients of the undersigned. In the other case, a young mother, Bernice, was detained in the South Texas Family Residential Center (“STFRC”) in Dilley, Texas, with her 4-year-old daughter. On March 5, Bernice attempted to kill herself by swallowing a bottle of shampoo after learning her bond would not be lowered and that she and her child would continue to be detained.

That same day, Bernice was transferred to a local hospital for treatment and observation. From the hospital, Bernice was transferred to the Laredo Detention facility, an adult detention facility. DHS referred her daughter for transfer to ORR custody on March 7, 2015 at 7:50 pm, and she was subsequently transferred to a foster home under ORR custody on March 8.

ICE followed its own procedure by transferring Bernice to a hospital for treatment because that she attempted to take her own life. ICE also complied with statutory law by transferring her daughter to ORR custody within 72 hours.

On June 8, I sent a request for the immediate stay of removal of Lilian and Christian to Andrew Lorenzen Strait, Deputy Assistant Director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) branch; Enrique Lucero, the Field Office Director of ICE ERO in San Antonio; Norma Lacey, an assistant to Mr. Lucero; Richard Rocha, a communications advisor with ICE ERO Headquarters; Scott Shuchart; Senior advisor to DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; Juanita Hester; Assistant Field Office Director to ICE ERO in San Antonio; and Deborah Achim, Assistant Field Office Director to ICE ERO in San Antonio.[1]

On June 9, 2015 at 3 am in the morning, ICE officials took Lilian; her son, and the other families from the motel room and placed them on a bus. She and several other Honduran families were then driven to a remote airstrip, forced to board a plane, and then flown back to Honduras later in the morning of June 9.

ICE’s Public Claims Regarding Lilian and Christian

ICE officials made several statements to the press regarding Lilian’s case in her last days in the United States. On June 4, 2015, in a statement made to the general pool of journalists, an ICE spokesperson issued the following statement: “An adult resident housed at the Karnes County Residential Center for U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is being observed by mental health professionals onsite who confirmed that the minor injury was not life-threatening, but that the help of specialized mental health care providers was appropriate…ICE is closely monitoring the situation and continues to investigate the circumstances. ICE will determine the next steps for the resident’s child who also resides at the facility.”[2]

On June 9, 2015, An ICE official wrote in an email to the Huffington Post stating that Oliva and her son had been deported and that “all of her legal appeals before ICE the Executive Office of Immigration Review and the Board of Immigration Appeals.” The official also conceded that ICE only permitted Lilian to speak with an attorney once in the last 6 days before removing her from the United States.[3]

On June 17, 2015, ICE again reiterated Lilian that “Lilian received proper medical attention after the incident, including mental health care.”[4]

Applicable Laws and Regulations

Section 4.5 of ICE’s family residential standards require ICE to transfer a person who appears an imminent danger to her own life to a hospital for medical treatment. “if danger to life or property appears imminent, the medical staff has the authority to isolate and transfer the resident from the general population to the nearest hospital.” The section goes on to state that “observation of imminently suicidal residents by medical or residential staff shall be one-to-one until the resident is transferred or released by the medical authority.”

18 U.S.C. § 241, Conspiracy against rights, states that if two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States…they shall be fined…or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

Lastly, 18 U.S.C. § 242 states that any person, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States…shall be fined or imprisoned not more than one year.

Lilian was not transferred to a hospital for medical treatment after she tried to kill herself. ICE officials took extraordinary precautions that contradict its claims that medical isolation for 5 consecutive days prevented her from meeting with any of her attorneys.

ICE demanded that Lilian remove all of her clothing, including her underwear. Presumably, the removal of clothing was to prevent her from using anything to hang herself with. In addition to stripping her, ICE took even more extreme measures by placing Lilian in a straitjacket, which limited her mobility and caused sleep deprivation or 2 consecutive days. If her clothing was removed and she was under 24 hour one-to-one observation, there was no need to take such extraordinary and restrictive measures, which in any setting would cause a patient at suicide risk to deteriorate in their condition.

Two or more officials in DHS made an agreement the moment that Lilian cut her wrist: she and her son would be immediately removed even if it meant intentionally depriving her of numerous fundamental rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, including her 5th amendment right to procedural due process; her right to adequate medical treatment; nutrition; and shelter, all derived from the 5th amendment; and her 8th amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Given that the principal reason that Lilian attempted to kill herself was due to her and her son’s prolonged detention, the appropriate and required action under ICE’s own regulations was to transfer her to the nearest hospital for treatment and observation.

If she were transferred to a hospital, she would not have suffered severe physical and mental pain as a result of ICE’s retaliatory conduct. In fact, in the instance of Bernice, a client of the undersigned who attempted to kill herself in early March of this year, DHS adhered to its own policy: she was immediately transferred to a hospital outside of the detention center in Dilley for medical treatment.[5] Once she was no longer deemed a risk to harm herself, she was transferred back to DHS custody.

Lilian was entitled sufficient medical care, food, and shelter. She was also entitled to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. ICE’s conduct against Lilian after she attempted suicide constituted punishment—she was separated from her son, placed in a straitjacket, and deprived of all contact with anyone but GEO or ICE officers for 3 consecutive days in a frigid room. At the end of those 2 days, she was again held in isolation but allowed to see her son one hour per day for approximately 2 days.

ICE’s intentional deprivation her of her 5th amendment right to counsel in removal proceedings and removing her from her sleep in pre-dawn operation further supports her allegation that ICE’s conduct was primarily to punish her. Insofar as ICE has claimed their actions were for Lilian’s own well-being, it was only to ensure that ICE would be immune from further negative publicity in the event that she attempted to kill herself again.

From June 3 to June 9, 2015, ICE officials denied numerous requests by her attorneys to meet with her in person and also denied Lilian’s multiple requests to meet with her attorneys.

Even assuming Lilian was capable of filing the complicated legal work to reopen her removal order or file a petition for review and emergency stay of removal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, she was barred from doing so because she was imprisoned in the isolated medical unit within the KCRC.

According to Fatima Menendez, ICE’s justification for denying these requests was because Lilian was in a severely bad shape from her attempted suicide and needed medical attention.

However, ICE claimed that it did not deprive Lilian of her right to counsel because she was allowed to speak with attorney Fatima Menendez for approximately 10-15 minutes on the phone on June 5 out of the 6 days that she was disappeared into the confines of two rooms within the KCRC. When Fatima arrived at the KCRC she was denied access to Lilian because GEO staff said she was under medical observation. Fatima was then told by an ICE official that Lilian would be in medical isolation because there was so much blood when they found her.

Attorney Menendez was only allowed to speak with Lilian after she questioned why the Honduran Consulate was allowed to see her. ICE allowed Fatima a phone call with Lilian, during which Lilian told Fatima she had only received minimal care, was very cold because she was only wearing a robe, and she had not seen her son in two days.

The reason that attorneys most needed to have direct access to her was because Javier Maldonado, who agreed to file a petition for review with the 5th circuit court of appeals, needed a copy of the BIA decision to file with the petition. Attorneys also needed to engage in detailed consultation to determine Lilian’s wishes for representation. However, this was categorically prevented because two or more officials already concluded that she would be removed from the United States no matter what.

CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST CHRISTIAN

The federal crime of Kidnapping, 18 USC § 1201(a)(1), is committed when a person unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or caries away and holds…any person and then willfully transports that person in interstate or foreign commerce in furtherance commission of the crime. The federal statute does not require that the defendant to have intended or committed another offense in addition to the initial unlawful confinement and subsequent carrying away.

8 U.S.C § 1232(c)(2) requires DHS to transfer unaccompanied minors to the custody of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) within 72 hours of initial apprehension, except in the case of exceptional services.

An unaccompanied alien child is defined in 6 U.S.C. 279(g)(2) as any child who (A) has no lawful immigration status in the United States; (B) has not attained 18 years of age; and (C)with respect to whom—(i)there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.

The moment that Lillian attempted to kill herself, she was no longer available to provide care and physical custody of Christian. Furthermore, Christian was completely separated from his mother for a minimum of 2 consecutive days. In those two days, Christian’s mother did not provide any care or physical custody for her son.

ICE was obligated to refer Christian for transfer to the custody of HHS as soon as his mother was unable to provide any form of care or custody for her son. Even after 2 days, Christian remained an unaccompanied alien child under the law. ICE permitted Lilian to spend one hour on June 5; one hour on June 6; and one on June 7 with her son attempt to circumvent its obligations under federal law to transfer Christian to the custody of HHS within 72 hours of the effective date of initial apprehension (when he was physically separated from his mother.)

What Lilian learned on June 6 further supports the fact that Christian was unaccompanied: he was not bathed for two consecutive days. GEO staff members, who are not licensed to provide for care of children, took custody of Christian. The fact that Christian was not bathed, or allowed to play with any of the other children in the facility, or allowed to see his mother, show that ICE intentionally disregarded the federally mandated laws to transfer children to the custody of HHS, which provides for licensed 24/7 residential care for a child of Christian’s tender age. He was also left alone for long periods of time at night and only periodically checked on by nurses throughout the night. He was a boy all alone in a solitary confinement cell in a secure jail designed for adults.

Given that DHS did not respond to an affirmative inquiry from ORR regarding a child alleged to having been unaccompanied in the KCRC, it is clear DHS did not even attempt to initiate the process to transfer Christian to ORR custody.

Two or more DHS and GEO officials conspired to violate Christian’s right as an unaccompanied minor to be transferred to the custody of HHS solely for the following purpose: to ensure his and Lilian’s removal from the United States. If Christian was transferred to HHS custody, a live witness to their crimes would have been left inside the United States and outside of the control of DHS.

Given the foregoing, I believe several officials at the Department of Homeland Security and GEO Group participated in the federal crime of kidnapping with respect to Christian and Conspiracy Against Rights and Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law against both Lilian and Christian. An investigation must take place to determine who is responsible

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. If you have any questions or would like to speak with our clients please contact us at 631-647-9701 or through e-mail at Bryan@amjolaw.com.

Very Truly Yours,

________________________                                    ____________________________

Ala Amoachi, Esq.                                                      Bryan S. Johnson, Esq.

Amoachi and Johnson, PLLC                                     Amoachi and Johnson, PLLC

1918 Union Blvd.                                                       1918 Union Boulevard

Bay Shore, NY 11706                                                 Bay Shore, NY 11706

(T) 631-647-9701                                                       (T) 631-647-9701

(F) 631-647-9705                                                       (F) 631-647-9705

CC:      The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C.  20528

Sarah Saldaña

Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

500 12th St., SW

Washington, D.C. 20536

John Roth

Inspector General

Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane, SW

Washington DC, 20528

Timothy Moynihan

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Office of Detention Oversight (OPR)

950 L’Enfant Plaza, SW Suite 200

Washington, D.C. 20536

Kenneth Magidson

United States Attorney

Southern District of Texas

1000 Louisiana, Ste. 2300

Houston, Texas 77002

Megan H. Mack

Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane, SW

Washington DC, 20528

[1] See attached e-mail printouts.

[2] Family detention center rocked by suicide try, release of pregnant detainees, McClatchy Washington Bureau, June 4, 2015, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article24785320.html

[3] Mother who attempted Suicide in family detention center is deported, Huffington Post, June 9, 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/09/mother-suicide-deported_n_7545934.html

[4] Teen mom who attempted suicide speaks out after deportation, Mcclatchy Washington Bureau, June 17, 2015,

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/immigration/article25186393.html

[5] “Soul-Destroying” one migrant mother’s story of life at Dilley Detention Center, The Guardian, May 22, 2015,

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/22/immigrant-mothers-dilley-family-detention-center-texas

Immigrant Justice Corps: We Work For Jailers of Immigrant Children.

Immigrant Justice Corps appears to have an impeccable pedigree. Its board consists of the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Robert A. Katzmann, Former Manhattan District Attorney, Robert Morganthau, and former non-profit star Deborah Winshel, who in 2013 was anointed one of the 50 most powerful women in New York.

But then everything falls apart. Winshel also wears the hat of Global Director of Blackstone Investment Group’s impact investment division. BlackRock is the majority owner of the GEO Group (over 10 percent of shares worth over $350 million), a private prison corporation that incarcerates refugee babies and children at the Karnes County Family Jail in South Texas Blackrock also owns over $300 million worth of shares in the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the South Texas Family Jail in Dilley, Texas. The Department of Homeland Security, GEO, and CCA have and continue to commit crimes, even torture, against thousands of children. Some of those victims are our clients.

One adorable girl, who is now 5 years old, was locked up with her mother in solitary confinement for 9 consecutive days while suffering from untreated pneumonia and severe decay in all of her teeth. Instead of releasing the child to her family’s home to recover, she was locked up in a small cell to writhe in pain for virtually every waking minute for 9 days.

She was tortured so that the Obama administration could remove her to deter others like her and her mom from coming in the future and so that Blackrock could earn a return on its near billion dollar investment in detention and deportation business. To corporations like Blackrock, a 5 year old baby’s health and right to be free from cruel and unusual punishments did not exist to GEO or CCA. In fact, it’s almost like Blackrock does not recognize her existence at all.

A 4-year-old boy and his 19-year-old mom, Lilian, cower in hiding in Honduras after ICE subjected them to torture for 6 days and then deported them with in secret in the dead of night without a the slightest sliver of due process. Lilian and her boy were jailed for 8 months. They were never given the chance to apply for their strongest defense: special immigrant juvenile status. When she could no longer bear to watch her fail to thrive due to malnutrition and depression arising from the conditions of the jail, she tried to save her son by killing herself.

Even in this desperate act, she was just another number to be discarded back to her home country at any cost. ICE and GEO tortured Lilian for 5 days in retaliation for her attempt to kill herself. Instead of providing her with medical care as she was entitled to under the law, ICE stripped her naked, forced her into a straitjacket, threw her into a freezing solitary confinement cell, and watched her suffer as she begged over and over again to see her son.

No one knows what happened to Christian in those 5 days. He was left alone in a secure jail with no one to care for him but men and women whose job it was to deport him. But Ms. Winshel’s employer made a profit.

These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Every child in who has been jailed in these facilities suffered extraordinary harm. So why does an organization that purports to stand for justice for immigrants have a board member who is a prominent director for a corporation that profits handsomely off crimes against children?

In total, Blackrock owns over $700 million worth of shares between CCA and GEO. Blackrock profits off of injustice against the most vulnerable immigrants. Children. Babies. Toddlers. And the mothers who risked everything to save them.

The conflict of interest is not just academic. Our office’s advocacy has included calls for the prosecution of CCA officials responsible for crimes committed against children in family detention. We will continue to demand that individuals who knowingly engaged in conduct that deprived children of their fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution, or constituted child abuse, be criminally prosecuted. The victims deserve no less.

What would happen if an Immigrant Justice Corp Fellow represents a child who was jailed in family detention? Can that fellow aggressively pursue a U-visa for that child arising from criminal investigation against officials in CCA or GEO? Will the fellow be pressured to not call for the end of family detention because one of his employer’s board members stands to lose on its investment? 

Even if not directly applicable to the attorney’s representation of immigrant clients, the specter of such despicable corporations on its board will likely create a culture that favors the corporation’s interests at the expense of the client.

There is a real and direct conflict of interest at Immigrant Justice Corps. The board member has vested interests in the success of Blackrock, which in turn has a vested interest in detaining some of the same immigrants that the nonprofit Corps will represent.

If the distinguished Robert A. Katzmann and Robert Morgenthau really care about immigrant justice, they should demand that Blackrock divest its holdings in GEO and CCA or make a donation to of $700,000,000 for pro bono counsel on the ground in Dilley and Karnes.

Otherwise, they will have the blood of children on their hands.

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