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SB4 Detailer Forces Detention of Immigrant with Schizophrenia

passport-315266_640-298x300Texas officials are reportedly refusing to release a young immigrant woman in dire need of medical attention for her schizophrenia, this despite warnings from her family about her condition.

Tania Silva, a woman born in Mexico who has been living in the U.S. for years, went missing after being dropped off at an Austin community college, where she studies veterinary medicine. Upon realizing that their child had disappeared, Silva’s parents immediately filed a missing persons report only to discover that she had been arrested by immigration officials.

According to Pamela Silva, Tania’s younger sister, Tania is a student who has been helping community, volunteering at the high school that she went to. She adds that when she’s not ill, she’s a normal person and acts calmly, something her friends and family know.

Silva is currently being detained in Travis County Correctional Facility for allegedly assaulting a police officer on Thursday morning in an Austin residential area, in compliance with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) hold.

Her arrest is made possible by Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a state bill passed earlier this year aimed at cracking down on “sanctuary cities.” SB4 forces local law enforcement agencies to comply with federal detainer requests on immigrants suspected to be unlawfully present in the country.

During the episode leading up to her arrest, Silva was found with a puppy in her arms on the front lawn of an Austin woman’s home. The homeowner told The Independent that she had invited Silva into her home, seeing that the young immigrant was apparently in need of help. Inside, the two women engaged in conversation, leading Silva to explain that the puppy was helping her keep calm.

While the homeowner called for emergency medical services (EMS) to take care of Silva, the car that arrived soon after did not hold medical personnel but law enforcement agents instead. Two policemen came to the door, explained that they were taking Silva in response to a missing persons report, and went off.

Silva cooperated with the officers at first but quickly went violent when they took the puppy away from her. After a long struggle, they pinned her to the ground and bound her hands and feet.

“The young lady did not become aggressive until they took the puppy away from her,” the homeowner pointed out.

According to the Austin Police Department spokesperson, the officers were entirely justified in their approach and were only following protocol.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, however, decried the handling of Silva’s case and the law behind her maltreatment, adding that “This is one of the reasons I continue to oppose SB4. It denies law enforcement the discretion to do the right thing for the right reason.”

ICE confirms that the agency had, in fact, sent out a detainer on Silva. Her family has not been able to see her since the arrest, this despite their pleas to see Tania so they can help her with her condition.

If you, or a loved one, have been a victim of a questionable detention, or want to know your rights in light of SB4, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices to speak with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.