Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has moved more than 700 women out of a Texas detention center, without informing their lawyers of their whereabouts. Now, the women's attorneys are worried for their health. 

Karnes County Residential Center announced it would be sending the women who were being held there to other detainment centers around the country, starting September 20, in order to hold families. 

The women detained at Karnes had been complaining about horrible medical conditions and had been denied proper medical care, according to volunteers for the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services. RAICES has been providing pro-bono legal services at Karnes. 

The organization began sharing the women’s testimonies online, urging ICE to #shutdownKarnes. The campaign was gaining attention and even support from many, including many democratic presidential candidates, when suddenly ICE announced it would be moving the female detainees. In a notice posted online, ICE stated that the facility would be used once again for families. 

Now, the women have been transferred to detention centers around the country and RAICES can’t get any information on where the women have been moved. There has not been any updated information on ICE’s detainee tracking system. Many of these women are clients of the organization. 



Their biggest concern is for the health of the women, according to Andrea Meza, the director of family detention services for RAICES. 

“I’m really fearful that their conditions could worsen,” Meza said. “I don’t want them to be in another ICE press release about death in detention.

According to Meza, ICE is not legally required to inform the detainee's lawyers of transfers, unless they are Salvadoran per the Orantes Settlement Agreement. 

“There’s not really anything that requires them to give us notice as to where our clients are,” Meza says. 

This is a common problem for those in ICE custody. If lawyers and family members cannot find a detainee’s location, they may have to face their case without legal representation. In addition, many with health conditions may not get the care they need if lawyers aren’t able to advocate for them. 

Some of the women have been able to be located. Of those they have been able to find, some are being housed in a private prison in Mississippi, which has been reported in the past for being poorly managed.