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Honduran Family Files Lawsuit Over Alleged Abuse At Detention Facility

Ross D. Franklin
Suspected illegal immigrants are transferred out of the holding area after being processed at the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Tucson, Ariz.

A Honduran mother and son are suing the federal government over what they call months-long abuses they experienced in a detention center run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The suit was filed last month by the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School.

Suny Rodriguez Alvarado decided to leave Honduras for the U.S. in late 2014 after receiving threats of violence from local police. She and her family were a part of a wave of thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Central America.

Rodriguez and her family were detained in Texas after crossing the Rio Grande River into the U.S.

The lawsuit says border officials tried to coerce her to sign documents agreeing to be returned to Honduras. They also confiscated and withheld her son’s asthma medication and threatened to separate her from her son.

“My worst trauma in the Dilley Detention Center was when they wanted to separate me from my son and send him to a shelter. I didn’t know anything, I was so uncertain and afraid. I didn’t know what would happen to my son.”

Rodriguez and her son were in detention for four months. In that time, the family was eventually granted asylum.

Aaron Korthuis is a law student at Yale working on the Rodriguez case. He says it highlights issues with ICE’s use of detention.

“So I think that Suny and her case demonstrates to a certain extent the continuing problems with family detention and the policies that the Obama Administration currently employs basically to deter people from coming to the United States.”

The Rodriguez family are the first refugee family to seek damages for harm suffered in ICE detention.

As a matter of policy, ICE does not comment on pending litigation.