ALVARADO, Texas - The Salvadoran woman who was being held in North Texas on an immigration hold was released from jail on Thursday to seek treatment for a brain tumor.
An immigration judge set Sara Beltran-Hernandez’s bond at $15,000 at a hearing Thursday morning and was later released around 3:30 p.m. after it was posted by her family. Both her attorney and the state agreed to the amount.
Beltran-Hernandez spoke in Spanish to the media assembled outside the detention center after her release. She became very emotional speaking about her family and the struggle to get treatment for her condition.
"I don't know what would've happened," she said. "Maybe, I'd be dead."
Beltran-Hernandez said in hindsight, she would not choose to come to the U.S. illegally again. She said even though her life was in danger in El Salvador and she was threatened, she doesn’t think it was worth the amount of struggle and suffering being in detention for months.
While she says she wasn't mistreated while in detention, she said she wasn't receiving the full treatment needed and had headaches and memory problems.
Beltran-Hernandez came to the United States illegally in Nov. 2015. She was later detained by immigration officials and was scheduled for deportation.
She was at Texas Health Huguley Hospital for treatment for the tumor when ICE agents removed her and brought her back to the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado. ICE said they did it because doctors determined her condition was stable.
Her attorneys asked for her release because of her medical condition, but a Dallas immigration judge refused three times before Thursday. The judge considered her a flight risk.
“She's very weak and she's very frightened. She has constant pain in her head, dizzy spells, bleeding nose. She's not able to walk or to eat well. She's very scared,” said Fatma Marouf, Beltran-Hernadez' attorney with the Texas A&M Immigrant Rights Clinic.
"Sara and her family are overjoyed that she will finally be able to be with her loved ones and receive medical care after being unjustly detained for over 400 days," said Eric Ferrero of Amnesty International USA. "Sara never should have been held for so long in the first place, let alone with a medical issue. It is unconscionable to treat people fleeing violence and danger as if they are criminals. Applying for asylum should not mean giving up one's human rights in the process."
Marouf said the $15,000 bond is actually pretty high. Typically in these types of cases, it's between $8,000 and $10,000 and must be paid in full. Her family agreed to the amount because they were just relieved it was finally being considered.
A neurosurgeon who examined Beltran-Hernadez on Monday determined her tumor is benign. However, it could have the potential to grow and shouldn't be ignored.
She's hoping her doctors will clear her to travel so she can live with family members in New York. She has also applied for asylum.