UPDATE: ICE Releases Pregnant Woman From Immigration Detention Facility
SAN DIEGO – In an unexpected turn of events, a pregnant woman being held at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility for more than a month was suddenly released Tuesday night. Maria Solis, an Oceanside mother of three young children, had been held in custody since Aug. 1, 2017, putting her at risk of miscarriage.
Ms. Solis, who feared for the health of her unborn baby, had asked that ICE release her but the agency denied the request late last month. The denial was an apparent violation of the agency’s policy, which requires that pregnant women not be held in detention unless warranted by extraordinary circumstances.
On Monday, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties sent a letter to ICE on behalf of Solis, requesting her immediate release or a detailed explanation for her detention. Her case garnered widespread community support, including help from MomsRising, a nonprofit advocacy organization concerned with issues affecting mothers and families.
“We are pleased to hear that Ms. Solis was released to be with her family,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU-SDIC. “Her detention should have never happened. We continue to ask that the agency be transparent and accountable about their process for placing pregnant women in detention.”
Leah Chavarria, an attorney representing the mother, said Solis is a domestic violence survivor from a previous relationship and is therefore eligible for a U-visa. An application for that visa is pending.
“It took a month and a half of diligent work and community support to get Maria Solis released from detention and finally we can celebrate her freedom,” Chavarria said. “The Department of Homeland Security has made a discretionary decision to release Maria on an order of supervision, pending the decision of her U-visa application filed in August. Maria, Maria’s family, and I are very happy for this outcome, though I remain concerned for the health of Maria’s unborn child on account of the stress Maria endured over the last month and a half.”
Ms. Solis has a history of difficult pregnancies. During her two previous pregnancies, she needed to be on bed rest and all three of her children were born prematurely. Ms. Solis was so concerned about the life of her unborn child that she asked on Tuesday to be deported to Mexico rather than continue to be detained any longer. Later that day, the agency agreed to release her to her family in Oceanside, her attorney said.
“I am relieved, and I know Maria is as well, that she will now be able to receive the medical treatment she needs,” Chavarria said. “I know that Maria is thankful to her family and the community for all their support and that she is beyond happy to now be able to hug her children and be with her family without the shackles of detention around her.”
For more information, please contact Ms. Solis’ attorney at (619) 239-7855 or by email at [email protected]