A Honduras man sought asylum after facing persecution in his home country because of his disabilities and deformities. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, of Louisiana reported that the man was granted parole after release from detention. Immigration authorities coordinated his detention release and negotiated a sponsor in New Jersey.
The man first entered detainment into a Louisiana facility in October of 2019 after authorities realized the man was in the country without authorization. The man, Amaya Portillo, stands at about 4 feet tall, has a malformed leg in addition to both neurological and heart complications. In Honduras, he suffered extreme oppression because of these disabilities.
However, while in Louisiana facilities, it has come under question whether or not he’s had access to what he needs. ACLU claims that authorities failed to give offer disabled access to proper facilities and medical treatment. He started his detainment in Winnfield, then was moved to Jena.
Reports from the detainment periods show that Portillo had access to a wheelchair in the Jena facility. However, he did not have access to a wheelchair of facilities for disabled persons at Winnfield. Additionally, he experienced difficulty using the restroom facilities in Jena because of a lack of ADA compliance.
While it’s certainly good news that Portillo now has a sponsor and will have access to proper facilities and medical care while his asylum case moves forward, it’s also pulled back the curtain. Detention centers throughout Louisiana are not prepared to meet the very basics of disabled needs for getting around and using the restroom. In many cases, these detention centers should be temporary, but in this case, this man spent more than three months there. Detention centers are not typically government-mandated; in fact, many are private, for-profit institutions.
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