Alien Sues ICE Over Care For Tot Who Fell Out Of Grocery Cart

File photo

HOUSTON (AP) — The mother of a 5-year-old Guatemalan boy sued U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the medical care he has received in detention for a head injury suffered before the family was arrested.

The lawsuit filed late Friday in California asks a judge to order the child to be taken to a pediatric neurologist or pediatric neurosurgeon.

It also seeks to prevent ICE from trying to immediately deport the family.

The boy fell out of a shopping cart in December, fractured his skull and suffered bleeding around his brain.

About a month later, he and his family were detained by ICE during what they thought was a routine check-in.

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The boy, his 1-year-old brother and their mother were taken to ICE’s family detention center at Dilley, Texas, while their father was taken to a detention center in California.

The child’s relatives and advocates allege that ICE is not properly treating symptoms caused by the accident that began before he was detained.

The boy has severe headaches and is hypersensitive to normal levels of sound, according to his aunt and Dr. Amy Cohen, an advocate working with the family.

He is also starting to wet himself, according to his aunt. They allege the boy’s mother has pleaded for medical care, but has been disregarded.

ICE has defended the care the boy has received at Dilley. The agency says medical staff at the detention center conducted multiple check-ups and found no lasting neurological issues.

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After The Associated Press first inquired about the case on Monday, ICE took the boy to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio on Tuesday and Wednesday, where he was found to have a normal MRI and no signs of continued bleeding in his skull.

The boy was not seen at the hospital by a pediatric neurologist, according to medical records obtained by his family’s attorneys.

According to the records, hospital doctors consulted the neurosurgery department and determined that no follow-up was necessary because the MRI was clear.

Cohen said the boy had an appointment to see a neurologist before the family was detained by ICE.

The symptoms his family reported began before their detention and could be caused by a head injury even if the initial bleeding is gone, meaning that an MRI would not be enough, she said.

The San Antonio hospital also did not have the paperwork from the California hospital that first treated him, according to the latest records.

Doctors at the first hospital determined that the boy needed a neurosurgery follow-up within four weeks.

In a statement Thursday, ICE said it was determined that “no issues were present that required the need to elevate the case to another neurological specialist.”

It declined to comment Saturday on the lawsuit. The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio declined to comment Friday on the case.

The AP is withholding the names of the boy and his family because they fear imminent deportation to Guatemala, where the boy’s mother says she was threatened.

Shopping Cart Safety

It is more common than most people think for children to be hurt in shopping carts. These injuries can be severe or even deadly.

Each year approximately 23,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from shopping carts. Most injuries are caused by falls from the cart or by the cart tipping over. Many injuries are to the head and neck.

Shopping carts come in different designs, and some may not be as stable or safe as they look. Before you put your child in a shopping cart, you should think twice about his or her safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following suggestions to increase your child’s safety while you shop.


Instead of putting your child in a cart while you shop, try one of these safer ideas:

  • Get another adult to come with you to watch your child while you shop.

  • Put your child in a stroller, wagon, or frontpack instead of in a shopping cart.

  • Ask your older child to walk and praise him or her for behaving and staying near you.

  • Leave your child at home with another adult while you shop.

  • Shop online if your store offers shopping on the Internet.


If you decide to put your child in a shopping cart anyway, then follow these rules:

  • Place your child in a safety belt or harness at all times when in a shopping cart.

  • Never leave your child alone in a shopping cart.

  • Do not let your child stand up in a shopping cart.

  • Do not place an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart.

  • Do not put your child in the basket.

  • Never allow your child to ride on the outside of a cart.

  • Do not allow an older child to climb on the cart or push the cart with another child in it, because it is very easy for a child to tip the cart over.


Some stores have taken steps to keep children safe. Try to shop at stores that do the following:

  • use carts with safer designs that allow children to ride closer to the ground (for example, in a small model car in front of the cart);

  • ensure that all carts have a child restraint in each seating location;

  • offer a pick-up area or help you bring your purchases to your car so you can safely take your child through the parking lot without having to use the cart; and/or

  • have a supervised in-store play area for children.


  • The information contained in this publication should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend on the basis of individual facts and circumstances.

  • This page may be printed and reproduced by subscribers to Pediatrics exclusively for not-for-profit patient-education use. [Published here as Fair Use.]

  • AAP Parent Pages provide parents relevant facts that explain current policies and guidelines pertaining to children’s health. This information is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement (www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2006-1215) and the Technical Report (www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2006-1216), both entitled “Shopping Cart–Related Injuries to Children,” published in the August 2006 issue of Pediatrics.

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