San Diego

Attorney: Mom, Girl, 9, Released From CBP Custody on Day 10

Pinheido claims U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement

Update: Al Otro Lado, the immigration law firm representing the 9-year-old girl, tweeted Tuesday the 9-year-old girl was released from CBP custody Monday night after media coverage of their complaint filing. The firm said the mother was taken to the hospital. 

A 9-year-old girl from El Salvador and her mother were going on their 10th day of detention at a port of entry station in San Diego County, the girl's attorney told NBC 7 on Monday.

Erika Pinheiro, an immigration attorney with Al Otro Lado, is representing a young girl who reportedly became ill with a foodborne illness as she and her mother wait for asylum status in the United States.

Pinheiro filed a complaint in federal court on Saturday accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection of violating the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by detaining a minor in their facility for more than 72 hours.

Pinheiro stressed the 9-year-old's case is not an isolated incident. She said some children at San Diego border stations have been held in custody alongside adults for as long as a month.

"In the case of CBP custody, it sets a strict 72-hour limit on children in CBP custody because they are meant as short-term holding facilities and there have been numerous reports and documentation of inadequate medical care. inadequate access to food and water, poor sanitation, and frequent illness," Pinheiro said.

The mother and daughter were waiting in Tijuana before presenting themselves at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

After asking for asylum the two were sent back to Mexico to await their court date, which is now a step of the asylum process due to the Trump administration's 'Migrant Protection Protocols' policy.

Since the mother and daughter's Oct. 4 court appearance, Pinheiro said she has not been able to communicate with them at all.

A CBP spokesperson said the agency would not comment on the 9-year-old's case, citing pending litigation and the fact the case involves a minor. However they did address the allegations regarding the Flores Agreement.

"There are exceptions when a given individual may remain in CBP custody for a longer period of time for one of any number of reasons, such as the need to maintain family unity, availability of appropriate detention space in another facility, translation requirements and more," the statement said.

Pinheiro said the judge presiding over the case was looking into possibly moving the mother and daughter to a stateside venue so they could stay with family.

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