Appeals court halts deportation of child with head injury

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HOUSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court in California temporarily halted the deportation of a 5-year-old child who injured his head before immigration agents arrested his family and whose advocates say needs to be seen by a neurologist.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order late Monday that prevents the immediate removal of the boy, his 1-year-old brother, and their mother, who are being held at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s family detention center at Dilley, Texas. The appeals court asked for more information from both sides Tuesday and Wednesday.

The child fractured his skull and suffered bleeding around his brain in a December fall, a month before his family was detained. The boy’s father is at a jail in California.

The family’s advocates say the child still has headaches and trouble hearing normal levels of sound, indicating he could be suffering from the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury. They have asked that he be taken to a pediatric neurologist.

ICE has defended the care given to the child, saying medical staff at Dilley and at a San Antonio hospital determined he did not need to see a neurologist.

A district judge on Monday sided with ICE, ruling that the family’s lawyers did not prove that deportation would further injure the child. U.S. government agencies “do not have an obligation to continue … medical care indefinitely,” U.S District Judge Stephen V. Wilson said.

Before the appeals court intervened, the mother and two children were told to prepare to leave Dilley overnight in expectation that they would board a deportation flight to Guatemala, said Amy Maldonado, an attorney for the family.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment because the litigation was ongoing.

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