Alleging detention officers had neglected her husband medically while at Mesa Verde Detention Facility, a Bakersfield woman flanked by community advocates demanded he be released into her care last week during a press conference.
Marybel Cisneros said it was poor medical care and mis-medication that resulted in her husband, Pablo Cisneros-Martinez, 54, having a heart attack just four days after he was detained April 1.
“They are playing roulette with his medication regimen,” Cisneros said at the press conference in front of the detention facility. “Each time Mesa Verde makes a mistake with his medication, they are putting his life in jeopardy.”
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement did not return South Kern Sol’s request for comment.
South Kern Sol could not confirm Cisneros-Martinez was mis-medicated or had a heart attack.
Cisneros-Martinez has several medical conditions, including coronary artery disease, diabetes and high blood pressure and was under the care of a cardiologist prior to being detained, Cisneros said.
Cisneros learned about her husband’s heart attack from another detainee, she said.
Bakersfield’s American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to ICE last week, advocating for Cisnero-Martinez to be released into his family’s care while he awaits his immigration proceeding.
“Pablo’s life is in great danger in Mesa Verde,” said Rosa Lopez, ACLU’s community engagement and policy advocate. “Marybel [Cisneros] is terrified that Pablo will not be able to endure his detention.”
Cisnero-Martinez’s case is not isolated, according to Lopez.
“Our office has received concerns of reports of medical neglect, mis-medication and inhumane treatment in Mesa Verde,” Lopez said. “These allegations are alarming.”
The ACLU office is investigating a number of cases related to neglect, according to Lopez. She said ACLU employees go to Mesa Verde on a weekly basis to address allegations of neglect and abuse. The office has received reports of misdiagnoses and over-medicating individuals.
Advocates and clergy members demanded Cisnero-Martinez’s release during the press conference.
“Being a detainee in an immigration center should not be a death sentence,” said iconic labor leader Dolores Huerta. “And all of us are here to demand one simple thing: we want to save this man’s life. We owe it to his family.”
Sister Marie Francis Schroepfer with Faith in the Valley Kern said this is a result of a broken and inhumane immigration system.
“Our immigration policies must be fair, humane and just, honoring the dignity of those in our immigration detention facilities,” Schroepfer said.
Cisneros said she hopes the press conference will shed light on the allegations.
“I don’t want this to become a story after the fact that he is deceased, and the government, ICE and Mesa Verde decide to finally put attention to this problem as a result of that,” she said. “I want to save his life before then.”
South Kern Sol is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, youth reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.