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Asylum-Seeker Sues US Government After Miscarriage In Detention

A vehicle drives into the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego, Calif., Ju...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A vehicle drives into the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego, Calif., June 9, 2017.

A Salvadoran asylum-seeker has filed a lawsuit against the government after she suffered a miscarriage while in custody at a private detention facility in Otay Mesa.

Rubia Morales entered ICE custody on Christmas Day 2017. She was already pregnant and said that her treatment in custody included a cold cell, non-nutritious foods and a lack of medical care. She said it led to her miscarriage.

Morales was being held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, which is run by the private company CoreCivic. On Jan. 10, 2018, after about two weeks in custody, she began to cramp and bleed.

Listen to this story by Max Rivlin-Nadler.

RELATED: Groups Want Immigration Officials To Stop Detaining Pregnant Women

According to the court filing, she was told by a medical professional on-site that the bleeding was “normal” and that she could buy sanitary pads for $1-a-piece to deal with the bleeding.

On Jan. 15, Morales collapsed while waiting in a meal line in custody and was rushed to the hospital, where she learned she had had a miscarriage.

“If we’re going to make the deliberate choice to hold pregnant women in immigration detention, we, collectively, have to be ready to give them the care that they’re going to need and the Otay Mesa facility, by design, does not have that care,” Morales’s lawyer, Joy Bertrand, told KPBS.

This would not be the first instance of an immigrant suffering a miscarriage at Otay Mesa Detention Center. In 2017, a 31-year-old Honduran woman miscarried after she said she complained about bleeding and cramps.

In a statement, CoreCivic told KPBS that it cannot comment on the pending litigation, but that it “provides three nutritious meals a day,” to detainees.


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Photo of Max Rivlin-Nadler

Max Rivlin-Nadler
Speak City Heights Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover City Heights, a neighborhood at the intersection of immigration, gentrification, and neighborhood-led health care initiatives. I'm interested in how this unique neighborhood deals with economic inequality during an unprecedented global health crisis.

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