SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Attorneys say they’re seeking the release of a 14-year-old Honduran boy who has been locked up in a Northern California juvenile hall for nearly a year, even though he has no criminal record and has been granted asylum.
The teen was apprehended last March trying to enter the U.S. alone at a Texas border crossing. His asylum case documented severe abuse by his parents and caregivers in Honduras.
The boy is being held at the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodland.
The teen receives little treatment for the trauma he’s suffered and should be in foster care, said Cecilia Candia, a staff attorney with San Francisco’s Legal Services for Children who visits the teen weekly.
Candia said the boy’s trauma has only been worsened by his indefinite detention, adding that he spends most of his time alone in his cell and has repeatedly tried to harm himself. He has lashed out at times, she said, causing staff to douse him with pepper spray or bind his wrists and ankles.
Yolo County spokeswoman Beth Gabor said the county’s contract with the federal government prohibits local officials from discussing specific cases. But, she said federal law requires the refugee agency “to continue to detain a child even after he or she is granted asylum,” until they can find a safe placement that takes into consideration “all of his or her social, behavioral and mental health needs.”