ICE Denies Report That Illegal Immigrant Was Refused Treatment After Suffering Head, Back Injury While Detained

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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  • An illegal immigrant was released from ICE custody in a wheelchair after he says inadequate medical care left him unable to walk.
  • An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the illegal immigrant was given several medical examinations and that he was referred for physical therapy while in custody. 
  • The illegal immigrant said he missed doctors appointments and that he didn’t receive physical therapy while in custody. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied an illegal immigrant’s allegation that he received inadequate medical care while in custody, a spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday.

Facundo Hernandez-Moreno, 34, said he did not receive adequate care after being injured in U.S. Marshals Service custody when he fell off a bunk bed, the Star-Tribune reported. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Spokesperson denied the allegation, saying Hernandez-Moreno was prescribed medication and referred for physical therapy during his detention at the Otero County Processing Center (OCPC).

Hernandez-Moreno missed doctor’s appointments and did not go to physical therapy, experts who reviewed his medical record said, the Star-Tribune reported.

“Facundo Hernandez-Moreno had unfettered access to medical professionals at OCPC who provided him an appropriate level of medical care, to include medication and transportation to offsite medical appointments, as needed. Any statement to the contrary is simply not true,” ICE spokesperson Monica Yoas told the DCNF.

Hernandez-Moreno was released from federal prison on Nov. 26, 2019, and transferred requiring the use of a wheelchair to the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson told the DCNF.

Hernandez-Moreno was caught illegally entering the U.S. and has said the La Linea cartel kidnapped him and forced him to smuggle a group of migrants into the country, the Star-Tribune reported. He said that he has received death threats from La Linea members after officials were tipped off about the cartel’s involvement by someone in the group.

“I can’t go back home because the cartel thinks I snitched on them to border patrol and wants me dead,” Hernandez-Moreno said, the Star-Telegram reported. “I served my time for crossing the border but the government is still trying to deport me even though they left me unable to walk or fend for myself.”

Hernandez-Moreno was apprehended for illegally entering the U.S. a second time on April 14, 2019, with a fake passport, an ICE spokesperson told the DCNF. He had a criminal background at the time of his second arrest including a 2011 DUI conviction in Fort Worth, Texas.

Hernandez-Moreno spent three months in an El Paso County Jail contracted by the U.S. Marshals Service and then four months in a federal prison before receiving his sentence, the Star-Tribune reported. He then spent five months at an ICE center in Chaparral, New Mexico before his release.

Hernandez-Moreno spent time in isolation and is now reliant on a wheelchair because he can’t walk or feel his legs, though he can move some of the toes on his left foot, the Star-Tribune reported. (RELATED: US Deported 6 Women Who Complained About Medical Malpractice At Georgia ICE Facility)

“Prison medical records indicated that Hernandez-Moreno had been treated for a history of back pain and scoliosis,” an ICE spokesperson told the DCNF. “The medical records also reported that Hernandez-Moreno suffered trauma after he fell off a bunk while in U.S. Marshals custody.”

Hernandez-Moreno said the last thing he remembered was taking several pills at the El Paso County Jail and going to bed, the Star-Tribune reported. His cellmates said they saw him fall from the top bunk and hit his head on the metal frame, and that guards then dragged an unconscious Hernandez-Moreno to the hallway and revived him with a defibrillator.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and ICE say Hernandez-Moreno received treatment for his injuries, though the U.S. Marshals declined to comment due to privacy concerns, the Star-Tribune reported. The El Paso Sheriff’s Office denied that Hernandez-Moreno was held in isolation as a retaliatory action.

“They kept telling me that there was nothing wrong with me and that the accident never happened,” Hernandez-Moreno said, the Star-Tribune reported. “They would take my chair and clothes and leave me alone for hours in the showers. Then officers and nurses would come in and scream at me to get up and walk.”

Justice Department-accredited legal representative Rosa DeJong said Hernandez-Moreno’s case reveals systemic neglect of detainees and a lack of sympathy for people seeking asylum, the Star-Tribune reported.

Hernandez-Moreno has filed for asylum though it could take up to three years for an immigration judge to rule on his case, DeJong said, the Start-Tribune reported. He told an asylum officer that he’s afraid to return to Mexico because the cartel is looking for him.

Hernandez-Moreno was denied a work permit, so he’s unable to afford medication or physical therapy for his injuries, DeJong said, the Start-Tribune reported.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshal Service did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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