Seeking Deportation Because of Poor Diabetes Management in Detention

Earlier, Insulin Nation reported on the case of Brenda Menjivar Guardado, an asylum-seeker from El Salvador who says her insulin-dependent diabetes has been badly mismanaged while she was in detention. Advocates now say she is asking to be deported as soon as possible because she fears for her health if she remains in custody in the U.S.

Guardado says she has been struggling with out-of-control glucose levels since she was transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Salvadoran has filed for asylum after entering the United States, but she says her insulin was thrown away when she was transferred to the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. She was told she was put on Lantus and Regular insulin, but her glucose levels have spiked upwards since she arrived at the center, and she has complained of shortness of breath and blurred vision. Insulin Nation has obtained a photocopy of Menjivar Guardado’s glucose logs.

Read more here: Is an Asylum Seeker’s Diabetes Being Dangerously Mismanaged?

After advocates on behalf of Menjivar Guardado tried and failed to have her released on medical grounds, she now has taken steps to stop the process of seeking asylum. Today, she asked an immigration judge to rescind her Credible Fear Interview (CFI), according to her lawyer, Whitney Drake. This interview is used to establish why an asylum-seeker would be in danger if deported by ICE. Female asylum seekers in El Salvador often cite gang violence and government indifference to domestic violence as reasons for requesting asylum, according to Bethany Carson, an immigration policy researcher with Grassroots Leadership. The reason Menjivar Guardado has requested asylum has not been made public.

Carson says Menjivar Guardado is withdrawing her asylum-seeking request out of fear for her physical safety. In an email exchange, Carson wrote, “She fears, and her doctor in El Salvador is concerned, that her symptoms are exactly what happened before she went into the coma she had when she was 13. To avoid this, she is rescinding her CFI, the first step to receiving asylum, hoping that she will be deported as quickly as possible to get out of detention where she is facing a life threatening situation.” Menjivar Guardado hopes that the judge will expedite her deportation to El Salvador, but no guarantees on a timeline have been offered.

Menjivar Guardado claims she has faced retribution for seeking help from outside advocates about her diabetes management. After Drake filed for the detainee’s release, Menjivar Guardado claims she was called into a room and forced to drink four glasses of water in succession. She says during that meeting that she was told by ICE officials that she was being noncompliant in her diabetes care, and that she should return to El Salvador because she wouldn’t get good diabetes care here in detention. Drake also says that she later got “in trouble” for faxing her medical records to her lawyer.

ICE has been contacted by Insulin Nation about Menjivar Guardado’s accusations, but no one has been supplied by that agency for an interview. Drake says she will now focus her energy on advocating for proper treatment for the detainee while she is still in detention.

Insulin Nation will continue to follow this story in the coming days.

Image: Katherine Welles /

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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