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Detained Salvadoran Woman Granted Bond As She Seeks Treatment For Brain Tumor

Mark David Smith
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas.

An immigration judge has granted bond to a 26-year-old Salvadoran woman, allowing her to leave a North Texas immigration detention center and receive treatment for a brain tumor. 

Sara Beltran Hernandez's family in New York posted her $15,000 bond after the Dallas hearing. She will be released by the end of the day from the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, south of Fort Worth, an Amnesty International official said.

"She's going to get medical treatment hopefully in New York. She might get checked out here first to make sure she's OK to travel. Then she'll be treated there," Beltran Hernandez's lawyer Fatma Marouf said.

Beltran Hernandez was hospitalized for two weeks after collapsing on Feb. 10 at the detention center. She was released from the hospital on Feb. 22 and then returned to the center in Alvarado. 

She has been seeking asylum in the U.S. for almost a year and a half. She says she can't return to El Salvador because of the risk of domestic violence and threats of gang violence specific to her family. Beltran Hernandez has two small children in El Salvador who would be allowed to join her if she is granted asylum.

Listen to and read our story from Feb. 24 below.

Dallas attorney Chris Hamilton got a call from Sara Beltran-Hernandez’s lawyers Wednesday night. They were in New York and needed someone who could reach their client right away.

Hamilton says Beltran-Hernandez was worried.

“She wanted access to a lawyer. She wanted medical care," Hamilton said. "She was in severe pain. She has a brain tumor, and she was not getting access to medical care and was very concerned.”

Hamilton drove to the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado but says he was denied access to her. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, released a statement. It said Beltran-Hernandez was evaluated by detention center medical staff and referred to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth. She was released on Wednesday after a doctor determined she was stable and then sent back to the detention center, according to ICE.

ICE's statement also said that Beltran-Hernandez has an appointment with a specialist and that the detention center's medical staff is monitoring her condition.

Hamilton says Beltran-Hernandez’s attorneys are now in Texas and working on her case with the help of Amnesty International.

“She was a refugee from El Salvador who was fleeing violence in that country and possibly also some domestic threats, Hamilton said. "And so she came to the United State [and] at some point sought asylum. And so it is just a terrifying case all around and just a heartbreaking story.”

ICE officials said Beltran-Hernandez entered the country illegally in 2015 and was ordered for deportation last month. ICE said she has no known criminal history.

Photo: Mark David Smith/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.