In a landmark decision, which would have great implication for undocumented immigrants, a federal judge asked the government to award a non-immigrant visa to a woman who was shackled to her hospital bed while giving birth in Nashville. Ms. Villegas entered the United States in 1996. She was arrested in Davidson County, TN while she was nine months pregnant, and was detained pursuant to an INA 287(g) agreement between the county and the federal government. On the sixth day of her detention, she was admitted to the hospital to give birth. Davidson County, TN deputies shackled her to her hospital bed, after they learned that Ms. Villegas was previously deported from the United States. She sued the county and settled the case for $490,000. In an unusual step, the judge asked the government to award her a U visa, which is reserved for victims of crimes, since the county violated her civil rights.
Unfortunately, this case is not an isolated incident, and cases like these highlight the abysmal conditions under which undocumented immigrants are held every day. For example, an undocumented in immigrant held at Krome detention center died after a nurse failed to give him his medications. Congress should review the conditions at these detention centers since any mistreatment would adversely reflect on the United States.