Tylenol for the pain. Diapers for the blood. Towels for underwear.
That’s what guards gave Nancy Gonzalez Hidalgo when she miscarried in prison.
“It was the worst day of my life,” she told the SPLC’s Liz Vinson.
Vinson charted Hidalgo’s path from the gas station where agents arrested her, to the prison where she miscarried, to the immigrant detention center where guards threatened her and told her she had no rights.
More than a year after she entered the U.S. for a vacation on a tourist visa, Hidalgo is still being held captive at Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. She just wants to go home – back to Mexico.
We took on Hidalgo’s case through our Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, and where our attorneys worked to finally get Hidalgo the medical care she still hadn’t received after her miscarriage. As Vinson writes:
Immediately upon her arrival at Irwin, Hidalgo began experiencing severe abdominal pain. At first, she was prescribed Advil, but she knew she needed to see a gynecologist. Prison staff said they couldn’t provide one, because Hidalgo wasn’t pregnant.
When she eventually saw a doctor, he diagnosed her with an infection and prescribed antibiotics. However, the prison did not give Hidalgo her first round of medicine, therefore worsening the infection caused by her miscarriage. By November 2018, the pain was so excruciating, she said, it would radiate into her legs and wake her during the night.
Hidalgo isn’t the only one to experience this kind of treatment.
The Obama administration ordered pregnant women detained only in “extreme circumstances,” but the Trump administration loosened that restriction, as well as the “critical reporting procedures” that once oversaw how pregnant women are treated in detention.
Now other women are reporting experiences like Hidalgo’s, like Carmen Puerto Diaz, who was at the end of her marriage interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services when an officer walked in with handcuffs.
Even amidst her confusion and panic, Puerto had the wherewithal to tell the ICE officer that she had hypertension and needed the medication she had kept within reach in her purse.
“Don’t worry, we’re going to give you your medication,” Puerto recalled to Natalia Megas for The Daily Beast that the officer told her.
But he didn’t. Puerto was transferred to three different ICE facilities over the next three days, growing dizzy, experiencing heart palpitations and living with the fear that she or her baby would die.
ICE has a directive on housing pregnant detainees, and CoreCivic Inc., the for-profit immigrant detention operator that detained Puerto, has protocols for medical care that it’s supposed to follow. It’s not clear why Puerto was only given the medication from her purse the night before she was released, days after she was first detained.
“I would never want to go through this experience again. I would never want to go through it again,” Puerto told Megas.
We’re committed to providing pro bono representation for women like Hidalgo and Puerto. And we’re committed to fighting the rollback of policies that guarantee the safe and fair treatment of immigrants in detention.
“I beg of you to have compassion and consideration for me,” wrote Hidalgo in a letter to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
We ask the same.
P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:
- Taken: How police departments make millions by seizing property by Anna Lee, Nathaniel Cary, and Mike Ellis for The Greenville News
- Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out by Ed Pilkington for The Guardian
- An asylum seeker’s quest to get her toddler back by Sarah Stillman for The New Yorker
- One lawyer, 194 felony cases, and no time by Richard A. Oppel Jr and Jugal K. Patel for The New York Times
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