Sources have told Latino Rebels that an undocumented 22-year-old Honduran pregnant woman in her third trimester was held for almost three days with no food at the McAllen Border Patrol Station earlier this year. According to the sources, the woman passed out on the third day, and when she woke up, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer was in front of her. She was then taken to a local area hospital where she was diagnosed with a bacterial infection in her vagina and dehydration. A copy of the diagnosis from Mission Regional Medical Center dated February 26, 2014 was also shared with Latino Rebels:
The hospital document lists that the woman was seen for third trimester pregnancy, bacterial vaginosis, dehydration and a muscle strain in one of her lower limbs. The document also list treatments for the woman and to “COME BACK TO EMERGENCY IF NEEDED.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) writes that bacterial vaginosis (BV) “is an infection caused when too much of certain bacteria change the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina.” Contrary to the belief that BV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD), the CDC states that “we do not know about the cause of BV or how some women get it” and says that “BV is not considered an STD, but having BV can increase your chances of getting an STD.” The CDC does include the following information about pregnant women with BV:
Pregnant women can get BV. Pregnant women with BV are more likely to have babies who are born premature (early) or with low birth weight than women who do not have BV while pregnant. Low birth weight means having a baby that weighs less than 5.5 pounds at birth.
According to sources, the woman said she was eventually given a frozen ham sandwich on her third day in the cell and very little water during the three days before she said she lost consciousness. In addition, after being in the hospital and receiving a prescription (Flagyl vaginal suppository), the woman said she returned to holding cells at the McAllen station, where, according to her account to sources, CBP officers never administered her prescription. Also, the sources allege that at some point during the woman’s stay inside the holding cells, CBP officials stood right outside of the cells and ate fast food in front of the woman and others, laughing.
The sources also said that the woman’s immigration report listed February 26, 2014 as the day she was brought into the McAllen station, which would make it the same day she was taken to the hospital. The woman is disputing that information, since she told sources that she was in the a McAllen holding cell for at least three days before February 26.
In an email statement about these specific allegations, a CBP spokesperson shared the following statement:
The Privacy Act precludes CBP from discussing specific cases. At the direction of President Barack Obama and Secretary Johnson, on June 1, a Unified Coordination Group was established to leverage Federal resources as part of a humanitarian response to an influx of unaccompanied children across the Southwest Border. This includes DHS and all of its components, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Justice, State and the General Services Administration. Secretary Johnson appointed Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate to serve as the Federal Coordinating Official for this U.S. Government-wide effort.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides short-term detention for persons who have entered the U.S. illegally. CBP works to expedite processing while ensuring health and food needs are met; that meals are provided regularly; that facilities include toilets; that those who exhibit signs of illness or disease are given proper medical care. Mistreatment or misconduct is not tolerated.
Mission Regional Medical Center is located about 15 minutes from the McAllen station, a “68,000-square-foot state of the art facility,” according to the CPB’s official website.
These allegations come at a time when CPB had to remove the organization’s head of internal affairs last month for failing “to investigate hundreds of allegations of abuse and use of force by armed border agents.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS’ Face the Nation, NPR, Univision, and The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream.