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Now Deported, Refugee Who Attempted Suicide At Karnes County Detention Center Speaks Out


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Lilian Olivia Bardales, the 19-year-old Honduran immigrant who attempted suicide at the Karnes County Detention Center earlier this month, said she was deported before exhausting all of her appeal options.

In an exclusive interview with McClatchy, Oliva said that she cut her wrist with a broken ID bracelet. Just five days after the the suicide attempt, which Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials ruled a “minor injury,” she and her 4-year-old son Christian were shuttled out of the detention center and held at a hotel before deportation.

“No one heard from us again,” Oliva said from a relative's house in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “It was like we disappeared.”

Olivia’s lawyers claim their client was surreptitiously swept out of the country, and they never had the chance to consult with her on an upcoming appeal. ICE officials deny this, instead claiming that her lawyers had the chance to speak with her before her deportation.

That’s moot now though, as Olivia and her son are back in Honduras — the country she’s twice fled from after facing rape, death threats, and physical abuse from her ex-partner.

Police failed to respond to her complaints. Her lawyer, Bryan Johnson, said that Olivia is a “perfect candidate” for a special immigration status since she’s under 21, but the red tape surrounding such permission is thick, and the situation is further complicated since she’s not in the U.S.

So while it’s still possible that Olivia could obtain passage to the U.S., hundreds of other women and children remain in the family detention centers in Karnes County and Dilley.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson toured the Karnes County facility earlier this week, but the agency has yet to release public remarks about his visit.

Johnson and other DHS officials called for a series of reforms to the family detention facilities, after reports detainee mistreatment and inadequate medical procedures.

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