Family Profiles in the ACLU's Challenge to the Hutto Detention Center

March 6, 2007

FAMILY: BUNIKYTE / BAUBONYTE
Saule (Sunny) Bunikyte, 9 years old
Egle (Anna) M. Baubonyte, 15 years old
Rasa Bunikiene (mother)
Country of Origin: Lithuania
Detained at Hutto on: December 14, 2006 (released)

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Background and Immigration Status:
Rasa is married to a U.S. citizen. She brought her daughters, Sunny and Anna, to the United States in March 2005. Anna was a freshman at Prairie Ridge High School and Sunny was in third grade at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake, IL. Rasa and her daughters were taken into ICE custody on December 14, 2006 in Broadview, IL when they went to their immigration hearing. Her husband, the girls' stepfather, was with them and tried to convince authorities to let the girls stay with him. Instead, Rasa and her daughters were taken away in a van and sent to Hutto, where they have been ever since.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Sunny and Anna, like the other families in Hutto, have no privacy. Their doors must be open at certain times and closed at other times, with a laser sensor that detects movement.
  • The girls are frightened and depressed. One morning, Sunny heard a guard tell a woman that if she went into her husband's cell, the guard would take away her kids. Sunny doesn't understand why her family is at Hutto and she hates the way some guards treat the kids, for example by scaring them and rushing them through showers and meals.
  • One of the wires on Anna's braces has come loose and is cutting into her gum and cheek, causing her serious pain. She has not received treatment.

FAMILY: BLANCO
Susana Rodriguez Blanco, 12 years old
Belkys Susana Blanco Perez (mother)
Country of Origin: Venezuela
Detained at Hutto on: February 7, 2007

Background and Immigration Status:
Susana's father was a professor and active in the Acción Democrática, the primary opposition to the Chavéz government in Venezuela. He was eventually assassinated by agents of that government. After her father's death, Susana and her mother were repeatedly harassed by government officials, who alternately threatened to deport them to Cuba and to physically harm them. Fearing for their lives, Susana and Belkys fled Venezuela and managed to arrive safely in the United States, where they are now seeking asylum. Over three months ago, a trained asylum officer found Belkys and Susana to have a credible fear of persecution in Venezuela.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Detention has seriously impacted Susana's mental health. She has developed a new aggressiveness since she was jailed, confronting guards with anger and hostility. On several occasions, she has had hysterical fits, in which she cries and screams and demands her release. Her mother could not calm her without the assistance of a guard. Nonetheless, Susana has received no mental health treatment.
  • The food is terrible. Since arriving at Hutto, Susana has lost weight. Susana and her mother have been told that if they request more nutritional food, then they will be given soup consisting of mostly water and bland ingredients that will be served lukewarm or cold.
  • At Hutto, Susana suffers from chronic colds and sore throat. She was eventually given antibiotics, but because she was unable to eat while taking the drugs, she was forced to discontinue the treatment. Susana has also developed a persistent heat rash. Her requests for treatment were ignored for nearly a month, at which point she received one small packet of cream which was inadequate to treat the rash.

FAMILY: BRISUELA
Fredy Lindolofo Pineda-Brisuela, 11
Orbelina Brisuela (mother)
Country of Origin: Honduras
Detained at Hutto on: January 11, 2007

Background and Immigration Status:
After members of their family were killed, and after Orbelina was threatened with murder by these same persecutors, Fredy and Orbelina were left with no choice but to flee Honduras. They were lucky enough to make it safely to the United States, where they are seeking asylum. Orbelina was found by a trained asylum officer to have a credible fear of persecution.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • On the first night of Fredy and Orbelina's detention at Hutto, Orbelina was interrogated by a guard from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. During this time, the guard yelled at her, challenging her identity. The guard informed Orbelina that the decision to deport her had already been made, and he attempted to force her to sign papers confirming both her identity as "Karen" and her deportation. Orbelina and Fredy were forced to stay awake from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. despite Orbelina's repeated statement that she was not Karen.
  • The food is nearly inedible for Fredy. He lost weight in his first months of detention. There is now a refrigerator in Fredy and Orbelina's pod containing fruit and juice, but detainees must ask the guards to access the food. On one occasion, a guard forced Orbelina to return the juice she was taking for Fredy, and only allowed Fredy to have the juice after he began crying. When Orbelina asked that guard for her name, the guard refused to answer and covered her name tag.
  • Fredy's mental health has deteriorated substantially as a result of the trauma of detention, but he has received no treatment or counseling.
      • He cries every night because he is miserable at Hutto. He is increasingly angry; he has literally begun to bang his head and hands against the wall in frustration. He is furious with his mother, whom he holds responsible for Hutto and the misery it causes him. He has told her that he believes she no longer loves him and that he hates her. In addition, Fredy is tense, serious, and intermittently aggressive as never before.
      • Fredy has become socially isolated since entering Hutto. He will not talk to or play with other children, and he is shy and reserved, which was never the case before. He says he just wants to leave and is not interested in playing.
      • Orbelina believes he does not understand that they will ever leave Hutto; Fredy prays to God to set them free. He stays close to his mother whenever possible; he cannot fall asleep unless Orbelina holds him, but guards have told Orbelina that they cannot sleep in the same bed.
  • Fredy has received inadequate medical care while in detention. On one occasion, he saw the nurse because of a cough and fever. The nurse barely looked at him and gave him cough syrup. Fredy is still suffering from this cough. Orbelina has asked for more syrup, but she was told that there is no more. For the last several weeks, Fredy has been light-headed and always looks like he is about to faint. Fredy has been taken to the nurse and told that nothing is wrong and that there is no medicine for his light-headedness. When Orbelina begged, she was told that they were saving the medicine for other children because it was not Fredy's "turn" for medicine.
  • Fredy was issued torn, stained, and yellowed clothing and underwear upon his arrival. Orbelina brought the stained underwear to the attention of the guards, and Fredy was given briefs that were so small on him that they chafed him and gave him a substantial rash. Fredy was having trouble walking due to the rash, and even his teacher became aware of this rash because Fredy was unable to close his legs in class. Several days later, Fredy was given boxers that are too big on him, to the point that he needs to roll them up four times in order to keep them from falling down.
  • Fredy and Orbelina may not confess privately with a priest because a guard must always be present. Guards always force attendees to leave immediately after services end.

FAMILY: TORUNO
Marco Antonio Toruno-Altamirano, 17
Marcos Antonio Toruno-Gutierrez (father)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Detained at Hutto on: February 19, 2007

Background and Immigration Status:
Marco and Marcos faced persecution in Nicaragua, and were left with no choice but to flee. Before fleeing, Marco was enrolled in the tenth grade. They arrived safely in the United States, where they have requested asylum. Nearly three months ago, a trained asylum officer found Marcos to have a credible fear of persecution.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Marco does not receive adequate medical care.
      • Although Hutto officials knew that chicken pox was spreading in the facility, and warned visitors about it, they did not vaccinate Marco. After he caught the chicken pox, his father filled out a medical call slip, but a nurse did not come to see them until three days later. She gave Marco Tylenol for his headache, but nothing else. The nurse took Marco's temperature each day for three days, but told Marco that he would not be allowed to see the doctor unless his fever rose one degree because only children with fevers of 101° or higher could see the doctor.
      • Marco has sought medical help for bronchial congestion, as he sometimes has difficulty breathing at night, and for an itchy foot fungus caused by dirty socks, for which he received a cream that proved ineffective. He has also seen a doctor for his chronic headaches, and was told that he would be referred for further medical care, but has never received it.
      • On each occasion that Marco has sought medical help, he has had to wait at least 24 hours before medical personnel would examine him.
  • Marco has become severely depressed at Hutto, but he has received no mental health care services. The constant noise and light bother him, and he suffers from chronic headaches. He has become anxious and has difficulty sleeping. Marco wakes up crying from nightmares that he is locked in a cell with other children, being threatened by guards who throw food at him and tell him he is a criminal. He feels like a lesser person as a result of his detention, and he has thoughts of hurting himself and has begun to feel suicidal. He desperately wants to leave, but is despondent and feels that there is little hope for his release.
  • Marco was issued and forced to wear stained and yellowed garments. One pair of underwear he received was streaked with brown blood or feces.
  • The food makes Marco seriously ill. He has had serious stomach pain and has vomited following meals on at least 4 occasions.

FAMILY: RAZMIAS-NICULESCU
Marusia Razmias, 3
Marusia Niculescu (mother)
Sumnacai Niculescu (father)
Country of Origin: Romania
Detained at Hutto on: October 5, 2006

Background and Immigration Status:
Marusia and her parents faced persecution in Romania, and were left with no choice but to flee. They arrived safely in the United States, where they sought asylum. They were found more than seven months ago to have a credible fear of persecution.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Marusia and her mother are detained in a separate cell from her father. Her father is usually not permitted to comfort Marusia during the night, even though she often has nightmares and wakes up crying.
  • Marusia's psychological health has deteriorated at Hutto, but she has been offered no counseling or other mental health care.
      • She has become very nervous, and often has nightmares. Occasionally, she wakes up crying because she believes that there is someone else in the cell.
      • Marusia cannot understand her detention and is desperate to leave Hutto. Sometimes, she picks up a bag and says goodbye to her friends as though she were leaving, and cries hysterically when her parents tell her she cannot. At other times, Marusia repetitively sings "Ya me voy!" ("I'm leaving!"), or picks up telephones that she passes and asks, "Lawyer? Lawyer? Are we going?" although there is no one on the line. When taken outside for recreation, Marusia has attempted to climb the fence to escape from Hutto.
      • Marusia's parents are also concerned that their daughter's long detention and the constant and unchanging routine at Hutto have caused Marusia's actions to become automatic.
  • The clothing that Marusia is forced to wear is improper and inadequate. Marusia's shoes do not fit properly. She was initially given shoes that were too small and hurt her feet, and the pair Hutto issued her in exchange is too large. Marusia was not given a jacket to wear in Hutto, and the sweatshirt she did receive does not provide adequate protection against the cold. Marusia's mother was forced to knit her daughter a sweater and hat in an attempt to keep her warm.
  • The food is inedible for a three-year-old child. She has had serious stomach pain and has vomited following meals on a number of occasions.
      • Although Marusia becomes hungry at times other than meal times, she is prohibited from taking food or drinks out of the cafeteria. Once, before Marusia's parents had learned to speak Spanish and before they could understand such rules, they attempted to take food and juice out of the cafeteria for Marusia. Hutto guards reported them for this infraction and took the food and juice away.
      • On a later occasion, Marusia drank milk from the communal refrigerator in her pod, but the milk was expired and it made her ill. Because the milk and juice in the refrigerator in Marusia's pod are often past their expiration dates, her parents will not give her these beverages.
      • The food is so bad and Marusia eats so little of it that a doctor has prescribed vitamins for her, but these are no substitute for nutritious food, and Marusia has lost weight.

FAMILY: NARTATEZ
Antony Castanon Nartatez, 3
Jonathan Castanon Nartatez, 11
Sheila Nartatez Ordonez (mother)
Country of Origin: Guatemala
Detained at Hutto on: February 16, 2007

Background and Immigration Status:
Sheila and her children were threatened by persecutors in Guatemala, and they were forced to flee the country. They managed to arrive safely in the United States, where they are now seeking asylum. In April, a trained asylum officer found Sheila to have a credible fear of persecution in Guatemala.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Jonathan and Antony are suffering from serious psychological trauma as a result of their detention, but they are provided with no mental health services.
      • Antony has become more aggressive, picking fights with the other children. He also has exhibited regressive behavior; although he stopped wetting the bed as a two-year-old, he is now once again forced to wear diapers. Rather than refer Antony for mental health care, doctors at Hutto told Antony’s mother that his urinary problems were due to the climate.
      • Jonathan has become more afraid since entering Hutto. He has reoccurring nightmares about Hutto guards disciplining and yelling at him. In the dreams, the guards threaten to separate Jonathan from his mother. He wakes up crying. In other dreams, the guards yell in English and Jonathan cannot understand what they are saying. Jonathan has also exhibited regressive behavior, even wetting the bed. He has begun picking fights with his brother Antony, a behavior which he never before exhibited.
  • The food is so bad that Jonathan has constant stomachaches and Antony has had serious stomach pain and diarrhea following meals on a number of occasions. Milk, juice, and canned goods are served past their expiration dates. Jonathan has lost weight since he arrived at Hutto. Because Antony and Jonathan are hardly eating, Sheila has asked the doctor to give them vitamin supplements, but to no avail.
  • The clothing that the boys were issued upon their arrival was disgusting and inadequate. Jonathan and Antony received used and yellowed underwear. Jonathan was not given a jacket to wear until a month after he arrived at Hutto, and the sweatshirt he did receive did not provide adequate protection against the cold.
  • Discipline is psychologically abusive and causes Jonathan, Antony, and Sheila much anxiety. Jonathan has been told that if he does not behave, he will be separated from his mother and brother. On May 2, Sheila heard an ICE officer tell another detainee that if she failed to cooperate with the deportation officer, her child would be taken away from her.

FAMILY: SANCHEZ
Yarely Maribel Vasquez Sanchez, 8 years old
Sandra Maribel Sanchez Matamoros (mother)
Country of Origin: Honduras
Detained at Hutto on: December 23, 2006

Background and Immigration Status:
Sandra, Yarely, and their family faced ongoing persecution and violence in Honduras. Fearing for their lives, they fled the country. Sandra is now awaiting a hearing to evaluate whether her fear of persecution in Honduras is reasonable.

Conditions of Confinement at Hutto:

  • Guards scream at Yarely in a manner that terrifies her. She cannot understand their commands, given in English, and she is subjected to more anger and discipline as a result. She is afraid all the time and talks to her mother about escaping. Her trauma has caused her to regress psychologically; she now communicates frequently in baby talk, talks about her fear of ghosts, and constantly wants to hold on to her mother for protection.
  • The food is so awful that Yarely has vomited while trying to eat it. Nonetheless, when she does eat, she is not given adequate time to finish her meal. Her mother is prohibited from taking food out of the cafeteria for her.
  • The clothing Yarely was issued upon her arrival was inadequate and disgusting. It included stained and dirty underwear. It also failed to protect her from the cold; she spent much of the winter shivering and crying, and she suffered from fevers and colds as a result.
  • Medical care for Yarely has been grossly inadequate. She has been denied treatment for stomach pain, colds, and fevers. On one occasion, Yarely hurt her wrist and a nurse told her she would need x-rays. However, she received no x-rays and was instead sent away with a packet of cream.

For more information on the families, including children's drawings and statements, go to www.aclu.org/hutto

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