An article by The Outline highlights the story of Brenda Menjivar Guarado, an asylum seeker from El Salvador who came to the United States seeking refuge from violence in her home. Menjivar Guerado’s story gained attention from the media in July when she suffered medical neglect within detention, and was forced to choose deportation.
Menjivar Guarado was detained in T. Don Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, Texas, operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America or CCA). “Upon arrival, guards took away her insulin and began giving her different, less effective treatment for her Type 1 diabetes,” the Outline reports. The lack of proper medical treatment became so dangerous that she was forced to choose deportation over continuing to pursue her asylum case in detention.
Menjivar Guarado’s story reveals the difficulty of fighting one’s asylum case from behind bars. Facilities like Hutto are purposefully isolated from community and legal services, thus the vast majority of women lack legal representation for the asylum process. According to a study by Syracuse University in 2016, of “those who didn’t have a lawyer, only 10 percent got asylum.”
In October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated a priority to close a so-called “loophole” in the asylum process and make it more difficult for judges to grant asylum. Further, according to the Outline, the government argued in Jennings v. Rodriguez that asylum seekers do not have constitutional rights in detention. “It's unclear whether Menjivar Guarado would have eventually been granted asylum, but it appears that the federal government isn't interested in finding out,” the article states.