Detention Facility Guards Reportedly Made Cruel Jokes About a DACA Recipient’s Prosthetic Leg

Lead Photo: Concertina wire and a security camera line the perimiter of the York County Dentention Center. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Concertina wire and a security camera line the perimiter of the York County Dentention Center. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
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When the Trump Administration put an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in early September, it didn’t immediately strip young undocumented immigrants of the program’s benefits. So the month-long detention of DACA recipient Felipe Abonza-López was enough to spark anger, but after the 20 year old wrote a letter about his treatment in a facility, the fury has reached fever pitch. In the November 11 missive, Abonza-López – who Customs and Border Protection picked up when he rode with undocumented family members – wrote that at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas, personnel denied him medical attention and made crude jokes about his prosthetic leg.

“I went to the clinic, I believe it was October 22, 2017,” the letter alleges. “I had sharp pain in my leg. I have screws in my leg. The men who were at the clinic did not know I spoke English. I graduated [high school in 2016]. I have DACA status. The medical guy said in English, ‘This is the prosthetic guy, he doesn’t need any medicine.’ The guard that escorted me to the clinic started laughing and making fun of me, ‘You can put a broomstick in his leg and he can use [it to] sweep.’”

When the two men learned he knew English, they gave him a pill, but they didn’t do anything else to ease the pain. He hasn’t returned because of the treatment he was subjected to, and instead, he’s suffered in pain silently. “I cannot sleep comfortably,” he continues. “I have to sleep with my leg right net to me. I’m afraid others in the dorm can steal my leg. Please get me out of here. I don’t deserve to be treated so inhumanely.”

Abonza-López, who moved from Mexico to the US at age 5, doesn’t have a record, and should be by all means, protected by the law. Instead, he languishes in detention, not getting the care he requires. Customs and Border Protection’s Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez said the arrest stems from a “human smuggling investigation. [The recipient’s] status will be reviewed at an immigration hearing,” according to the Huffington Post.

The activist community has rallied behind Abonza-López’s case. With #FreeFelipe, they’re urging that people call San Antonio ICE Field Office Director Daniel Bible to demand his immediate release.

This case is just another example of why DACA recipients need permanent protection. In September, President Donald Trump gave Congress six months to pass legislation to protect the about 800,000 beneficiaries. Activists have put pressure on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act, that is a bill that will improve the lives of young undocumented immigrants that doesn’t come at the expense of other members of the undocumented community.