Maria Isabel Corpeno Argueta broke an ankle bone on Oct. 4 and needed emergency surgery because she was forced to wear an electronic monitor device, like thousands of undocumented refugees from Central America.
The U.S. federal government, through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), keeps tabs on refugees by using electronic monitoring devices.
In recent months, when Maria reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ISAP) office in Chicago, she would report numbness and severe pain in her ankle. She was advised that her ICE officer would be notified. Maria reported to a private company, BI Incorporated, which is paid by the federal government to monitor the devices and refugees. Maria requested that ICE either remove the ankle monitor or otherwise put it on the other leg. ICE failed to respond to Maria's requests.
"I came to the USA with my children because El Salvador is full of violence and my children were not safe. ICE knows where I am all the time, and I report always on time. I told my representative at the office where I report that I had pain and to please tell my officer, but no one ever did anything to help with my pain," Maria said.
Maria had an operation on October 5, 2015, and is recuperating, but she was advised by ICE that she needs a new monitor on her other ankle or she must appear at the ISAP office, otherwise she is in violation and could face deportation.
Greg Olmstead, an attorney with the Deratany Firm, said, "This is an outrage. First, without any criminal history, there was not any justification for ICE to place an ankle monitor on Maria. Maria did not pose any threat to public safety. Maria is a law-abiding individual and the mother of two young children. However, once ICE decided to place Maria in an ankle monitor, they were required to act in a reasonable manner to ensure that Maria did not suffer physical harm."
Maria broke her ankle walking down a staircase while wearing the bulky, metal monitor. This permanent injury that will cause Maria pain, suffering, disfigurement, and loss of a normal life for the rest of her life. Maria is only 31 and faces more than 50 years of pain and suffering from this injury.
The Deratany Law Firm will pursue all remedies available under the law to have Maria compensated for this permanent physical harm done to her, Olmstead said.