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Concerned family fears for undocumented Buda resident

An undocumented Buda resident still in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody officially had her first day in court earlier this month. 

For the family of Janelie Rodriguez, 25, the fight to have her released from federal custody continues, as the worries about her condition grow.

Chito Vela, Rodriuguez’s attorney, said his client went through a scheduled bond hearing Sept. 5.

Rodriguez, 25, was detained in October 2017 after she was arrested during a mental health episode at her Buda home.

Rodriguez was taken to a hospital that night, and was later transferred to the Kerrville Mental Hospital and eventually to jail where it took months for her to receive proper medication.

Rodriguez was released from the hospital in late November. Her mother, Janeth Rodriguez, said her daughter experienced a few more psychotic episodes before being arrested in January for felony assault of the police officers who originally took her to the hospital.

The charges were eventually dropped, but due to an ICE detainer, Janelie Rodriguez was moved to Pearsall.

“She had never been to a hospital before, but I didn’t know what to do,” Janeth Rodriguez said. “She was diagnosed schizophrenic when she was 20 and has been medicated since. I didn’t know how to help her that night and she needed a hospital.”

Mano Amiga, an advocacy group that assists undocumented residents, put Janeth Rodriguez in touch with Chito Vela, an attorney who recently won a case involving an ICE detainee. The last five individuals to seek help from Mano Amiga were released by ICE before their court date.

“We launched a petition that we’ve posted on our Facebook page and spread to our contacts across Texas,” Beatriz Gomez-Rodriguez, a part-time staffer for Mano Amiga, said. “We have over (600) signatures.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett sent Mano Amiga a letter in support of Janelie’s release.

“I do not believe ICE is equipped to provide her the mental health treatment she requires,” Doggett said in his statement. “I am respectfully requesting ICE to drop the hold or at least release Janelie on her own recognizance to allow her to get the medical care treatment that she clearly needs.”

Janeth Rodriguez said she and her daughter moved to the U.S. when Janelie was two years old to escape abuse by Janelie’s father. Janeth Rodriguez said the only family Janelie would have in Mexico are grandparents, who are not able to assist in dealing with her mental condition.

An update on Rodriguez’s hearing can be found in next week’s Hays Free Press.

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