Felipe Abonza-Lopez, a 20-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient with a medical disability, captured media attention in November after he was detained for over a month. The Huffington Post reported that Abonza-Lopez was arrested while riding in a car with undocumented family members after it was reported as a “suspicious vehicle” on October 12. Following his arrest, Abonza-Lopez was detained in South Texas Detention Complex operated by private prison corporation GEO Group in Pearsall, Texas.
The #FreeFelipe campaign lifted up Abonza-Lopez’s suffering in detention where he reported that was mocked by private prison staff for his prosthetic leg. He experienced pain in his leg and went to a medical clinic to ask for help. “The medical worker and a guard joked about his leg in English, acting as if he did not understand,” Huffington Post reported.
The article included a letter from Abonza-Lopez (below), which included the following details:
A GEO Group guard stated he could “put a broomstick in his leg and he can use [it to] sweep”
A clinic worker gave him a pill for leg pain and no other care
Abonza-Lopez fears bullying from the private prison staff, and worries that someone could steal his leg while he is asleep
“Please get me out of here. I do not deserve to be treated so inhumanely,” Abonza-Lopez wrote. He is among a rising number of DACA recipients who have been detained under the Trump administration.
“We know that ICE will try to detain and deport people who have DACA so long as no one is paying attention to it,” said Amy Fischer, policy director with RAICES. “There have been a handful of other instances in Texas of DACA holders being detained and then released after public pressure,” Fischer continued, pointing to the urgent need for protection of Dreamers and their parents at risk of detention and deportation.