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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
KARNES: FILTH AND NEGLECT
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:
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.