MILAN, NM—Last night, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus on behalf of Manuel Pérez*, a Guatemalan detainee suffering from a traumatic brain injury. For more than nine months, the government has held Mr. Pérez in civil immigration detention without a bond hearing in the Cibola County Correctional Center, a facility notorious for medical neglect operated by for-profit prison corporation CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America. Mr. Pérez is experiencing severe pain, vertigo, loss of vision, persistent headaches, and cognitive difficulties. Despite a neurologist’s recommendation that Mr. Pérez get specialized care outside the facility, the U.S. government has twice denied parole that would allow him to access medical treatment. The ACLU of New Mexico is petitioning a federal district court to order his release from prolonged detention so that he can access the critical care he needs to treat his injury.
“It is unconscionable for our government to detain a person without a bond hearing and with grave neurological trauma for more than nine months and deny him critical medical care,” said ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney Kristin Greer Love. “Mr. Pérez and his young son sought safety in the United States after he was the target of a brutal attack that left him with a traumatic brain injury. Denying him care, while CoreCivic profits from his prolonged detention, is cruel and unjust.”
Mr. Pérez, a 27-year-old father of two, fled Guatemala in November 2016 after he was brutally attacked by an armed gang of men who targeted him because he is indigenous. The attackers fractured his skull, causing his brain to hemorrhage, and broke his teeth.
After the attack, he fled to the United States, where he has a sister and a brother who are lawful permanent residents, and sought immigration relief. Mr. Pérez’ symptoms have continued to worsen throughout his time in immigration detention, where he continues to be held despite posing no flight risk or danger to the public.
“He's a brain trauma victim of crime who fled to avoid death, a father of young children, and an innocent human being,” said Theresa Wilkes, an immigration attorney with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project who represents Mr. Pérez. “It's been hard to look him in the eye and give him an explanation that makes sense as to why his situation has been so ignored for so long.”
*The Petitioner’s name has been changed to protect his identity.