ICE Places Child in Danger by Refusing to Release Mom, Griselda, to Protect Her

October 17, 2018

Griselda is detained a thousand miles away from her daughter Samantha, a 5-year-old U.S. citizen, who is being abused by the same man who called ICE to separate them

AUSTIN — Despite escalating danger to Griselda’s young child, ICE has denied multiple legal and community requests for release on humanitarian grounds. This mother remains unable to protect her while detained at the infamous for-profit T. Don Hutto immigration prison in Taylor, Texas.

Melvin Griselda Cruz Lopez, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, was separated from her 5 year old U.S. citizen daughter Samantha when her abusive ex-partner called immigration nearly a year ago. Prior to her deportation she had lived in the U.S. for over a decade.

Samantha is living near Chicago with her father, the same man who pushed Griselda down the stairs, and repeatedly became physically aggressive in front of their daughter. He has isolated her from all nearby family and she is in constant danger. Griselda has submitted audio-recording evidence of her daughter being physically abused. Most alarming, Samantha’s father recently cut off contact between mother and child following a phone call in which Samantha shared information with her mother that raises concerns about possible sexual abuse.

“I ask for help from the people that can support me...I am a desperate mother. My daughter is 5 years old, she needs me,” said Griselda. “When I was deported, she stayed with her father in Chicago and it has been almost a month since he has allowed her to speak with me. I haven’t heard anything about my daughter and I do not agree with this, since before I was deported my daughter asked me for help because she was being mistreated.”

The anxiety over being unable to help Samantha is exacerbating severe injuries. For over 6 months, Griselda has coped with debilitating pain due to a head trauma which occurred from fainting after being given unknown medication in detention.

Despite the danger to her daughter and their culpability in her acute medical state, ICE did not provide any stated explanation in response to a congressional inquiry into their denial of Griselda’s release.

“In this time of national reckoning with abuse, we need to listen to the voices of brave women like Griselda speaking truth about how ICE terrorizes victims of violence. By continuing to detain Griselda, ICE is allowing itself to be weaponized by an abuser to lock up a survivor and place her child in danger,” said Sofia Casini, Immigrant Rights Organizer at Grassroots Leadership. “We’re calling on ICE to stop this inhumanity and release her now to care for her daughter.”

                                                            # # #

Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.


Sofia Casini,, 512-499-8111
Bethany Carson,, 512-499-8111
Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch,, 512-599-8500