In the Platte County Jail sits an undocumented Honduran almost six months' pregnant.
She has been there four weeks.
Her family says that Kenia Bautista-Mayorga, taken into custody on May 16, is fighting a return to Honduras because an allegedly abusive ex-husband might harm her, their 3-year-old son and the baby she will deliver.
Her situation reflects two recent changes in the government's toughening stance on detaining and removing unlawful immigrants. In late March, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a directive that "ended the presumption of release of pregnant detainees." And just earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that domestic violence will no longer be grounds for undocumented persons to seek asylum.
His ruling on domestic violence claims could make Bautista-Mayorga's deportation inevitable.
"We have a lot of clients in that situation, and she is one of them," said attorney Megan Galicia. "In Honduras and other parts of Central America, I think domestic violence is in the culture. Women aren't educated or empowered to expect something different."
Bautista-Mayorga, 23, was arrested after the Missouri Highway Patrol noticed a car drift onto the shoulder of Interstate 35 about 30 miles northeast of Kansas City. She occupied a back seat, next to her young son. Hours later, they were separated, she awaiting deportation and sleeping on a too-thin jail mattress that made her back ache, Galicia said.
She was throwing up, feeling dizzy and having nose bleeds, say her family and lawyer. Within days of her detention, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker intervened. The New Jersey Democrat visited Bautista-Mayorga in her cell while he was in Kansas City to speak at a May 19 rally for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat.
Booker arranged with ICE officials for a gynecologist to examine the detainee and receive medications her family said she needed to treat discomfort from her pregnancy.
The American Civil Liberties Union, contacted by friends of the family, brought the case to Booker's attention because he has sponsored a bill to improve the treatment of pregnant women and mothers behind bars.
He was unable to convince ICE to let Bautista-Mayorga go.
"We're asking for her to be immediately released on parole" while her case is being reviewed by an immigration court in Texas, where she had lived, Galicia said.
Prior to ICE's change in policy, the agency generally allowed pregnant undocumented persons to be freed on bond or supervised release. That will remain the case for many pregnant women detained, but President Donald Trump has ordered ICE to keep more in jail, citing too many undocumented immigrants disappearing after bonding out.
A section of the Immigration and Naturalization Act allows for the parole of women "who have been medically certified as pregnant" and "on a case-by-case basis ... for urgent humanitarian reasons." ICE is keeping Bautista-Mayorga indefinitely; immigration court has yet to schedule a date for a judge to review a November 2016 order of removal, as she has requested.
She illegally crossed the border with her young son earlier that year.
A relative, Angelica Erazo, said Bautista-Mayorga was fleeing a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with her husband, a police officer. The husband allegedly kept the woman from leaving their house on her own.
"She tried going to court in Honduras, but her case against him was shut down," Erazo said. "It's one of the murder capitals of the world, but the government protects its police.
"Kenia's afraid she'll get killed if she goes back."
Experts expect wide-ranging effects from Sessions' unusual overturning of an immigration case granting asylum to a Salvadoran woman who had been raped and beaten by her ex-husband.
A precedent set under President Barack Obama for providing refuge to victims of "private violence," from a spouse or gangs, created "powerful incentives ... to come here illegally and claim a fear of return," Sessions wrote in his ruling. He indicated the new policy would apply in cases of alleged violence "perpetrated by nongovernmental actors." It's not known whether a spouse who is a police officer would be considered nongovernmental.
ICE said Bautista-Mayorga was taken into custody Feb. 25, 2016, when she illegally crossed the border at Eagle Pass, Texas. She was released that same day on her own recognizance and, agreeing to attend an immigration court hearing later in the year, she indicated to border authorities her wish to seek asylum, Erazo said.
Last month, Bautista-Mayorga — "a fugitive alien with final orders of removal," in ICE's words — traveled to Iowa with her partner from Texas, Luis Diaz, to pick up a family member for a wedding to be held in the Austin area. At one point during the drive through the Kansas City area, Bautista-Mayorga's son Noah said he needed to go to the bathroom.
Diaz, the driver, said he turned his head to talk to the boy in the back seat when his car, buffeted by stiff winds, swerved toward the shoulder.
A Missouri trooper pulled them over and ticketed Diaz for swerving and not possessing a valid driver's license. He then asked Bautista-Mayorga for identifying documents and, running her information through a database, learned of the immigration court's order of removal.
Lawyer Galicia questioned the need for the officer to run information on Bautista-Mayorga since she wasn't driving.
"We think they were profiled," she said.
Though unfamiliar with the case, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol this week said it would be customary for a trooper encountering a driver without a valid license to check whether other occupants of a vehicle had licenses to take the wheel from there.
In the case of Bautista-Mayorga and Diaz, the trooper instructed the couple to follow him to an ICE processing facility in Kansas City's Northland. There, ICE officers arrested the woman, turned son Noah over to Diaz, who also lacked proper papers, and told the man he had two months to voluntarily depart the country, Galicia and Erazo said.
The couple are from the same Honduran village and were reacquainted when she needed a place to live in Texas. Diaz crossed the U.S. border several years before she did.
"It would appear that ICE was weighing which of (the two adults) would be detained and who would be released with the boy," Galicia said. "Usually, it's the mother who's let go and the father is jailed. Strangely, this was the opposite.
"And she's pregnant."
The lawyer also noted that Diaz is not Noah's father.
ICE said a judge ordered Bautista-Mayorga's removal when when she failed to appear at her immigration hearing in 2016. Her family contends she showed but her attorney did not.
The federal agency, which contracts with the Platte County Jail and other detention facilities around the country, contends it provides all detainees necessary medical, dental and mental health care. They receive an intake screening within 12 hours of arriving and a full health assessment no later than 14 days after entering ICE custody.
As for Noah — back in Texas with Diaz — separation from his mother has been traumatic, Diaz said in a conference call with The Star through an interpreter.
ICE allows Diaz and Bautista-Mayorga to connect through Skype, but Diaz says Noah sometimes refuses to take part in the video linkup.
"Every night Noah cries and wants to know where his mom is," Diaz said. "He thinks she abandoned him."