ICE Moved More than 700 Women From A Texas Detention Center Without Telling Their Lawyers

ICE has not informed the women's lawyers of their current location.

Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles
Photo Credit: Getty Images

| October 14 2019,

5:02 pm

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. 

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.

“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.