After giving birth at a California hospital, a Honduran teen mom seeking asylum in the U.S. alleges that a Border Patrol agent threatened to separate her from her newborn, NBC 7 San Diego reports.
According to the new mom’s attorney Erika Pinheiro, the 19-year-old, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity, gave birth to her child Friday at Scripps Mercy Chula Vista, a hospital near San Diego. Moments later, the teen alleges that a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent informed her that her baby would stay in the country while she would be deported back to Mexico, where she had been awaiting her asylum case under President Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.
“I know she’s been through a lot,” Pinheiro, the litigation and policy director at immigration legal services firm Al Otro Lado, told the news outlet. “I can’t imagine the anguish she was going through when she thought she would be separated from her child.”
For months, the teen has been carrying her pregnancy in Tijuana, Mexico. Last week, she began experiencing complications but was unable to be admitted into a local hospital. According to Pinheiro, “it’s very difficult-to-impossible for asylum seekers in Mexico to access public health care.”
Desperate for medical attention after experiencing contractions, she crossed the border and presented herself to CBP agents. She was then transported to Scripps Mercy, where she delivered her baby. At the hospital, however, the new mom was initially unable to speak with attorneys, with seven agents surrounding the maternity ward.
After news around her case circulated on social media, CBP allowed the teen to speak with attorneys on Monday. Later that day, she was also released from custody into the U.S. with a Notice to Appear.
“No matter what someone does, once they’re in U.S. government custody, they should have the right to speak to an attorney and the right to a fair hearing before they have their child removed from their custody,” Pinheiro said.
The lawyer added that the mom and her newborn are currently together at a San Diego children’s hospital.