Immigrant families arriving in Houston share what they saw at Texas detention center

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- About a dozen women and their babies seeking political asylum in the United States were released from federal detention in San Antonio on Wednesday. The women were loaded onto buses by federal agents and sent to Houston, where they transferred onto a number of different buses bound for various parts of the country.

Eyewitness News was there when the women got off the bus from San Antonio. They looked tired, scared, but relieved that they were out of federal custody and had their children with them.

Maria La Rivera, who clutched her 2-year-old son in her arms as she spoke, described harrowing conditions, both physically and emotionally over the past months.

La Rivera traveled with her small child through Honduras, Mexico, and then crossed the U.S. border by wading through the Rio Grande River.

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Mothers and babies who were released from a detention center in San Antonio speak with ABC13 about what they saw.

"We were first put in a dog house," La Rivera said in Spanish, describing the cage like partitions used by federal authorities.

"Then, they put us in an ice box," she said, describing a holding facility that was very cold. La Rivera said the cold holding facility had no medicine and she was only given one sandwich a day, not enough food for her and her son.

It wasn't until about two weeks ago, when she was moved to a family detention center, that she said conditions improved dramatically.

La Rivera and other women told Eyewitness News they saw with their own eyes federal authorities removing babies from other mothers' arms. The women said they were in fear that they would have their babies ripped from their arms next.

The women said they do not know why some women had their babies removed and some were allowed to keep their children.
They also said they were interviewed by immigration officials, but they are unsure what specific interviews they went through.

Wednesday morning, several of the women were fitted with ankle monitors. Authorities went to the immigration facility they were staying in, announced a list of names of women who were leaving, and then that was it. That group of women got placed on buses with a schedule designed to get them to relatives already in the U.S.

La Rivera and her small son were heading to Tennessee. She had no money, no phone; just some papers and a bag of clothes. She told us she has two other children she had to leave behind in Honduras because she had no means to bring them with her. For now, she is just glad to be on a bus with her 2-year-old in her arms.


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