Skip to main content

Two teenagers who now live in Rochester have received an $80,000 settlement over their treatment at border patrol facilities in Texas.

Kerlin Sanchez Villalobos, 19, and her sister, 17, received the settlement after suing the federal government, with the pair represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota and Texas. 

The two sisters, then ages 14 and 16, were arrested while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in June of 2019 as they fled their home country of Honduras to be with their mother in Rochester.

While in detention centers and group homes, the two were faced with a “complete lack of oversight, safeguards, and accountability,” the ACLU said.

Sanchez Villalobos spent 20 days in detention, while her younger sister spent 29 days in detention.

According to the ACLU, the sisters faced physical assault as well as a lack of adequate food or water and overcrowded cages while in the custody of border patrol. They were also allegedly not given proper hygiene necessities and medication and were forced to care for the younger children.

The group homes where the sisters then stayed had previously been cited for “significant” violations, the ACLU said.

“Children who are alone at the border are already terrified and vulnerable, and having Customs and Border Protection agents deny medical care, physically abuse them and make children compete for food is an inhumane and inexcusable violation of these children’s rights,” ACLU Minnesota legal director Teresa Nelson said in a statement.

“We hope that the lawsuit and sharing our story changes how the government treats children who are coming to America,” Sanchez Villalobos said in a statement.

“I don’t want any other kid to be treated the way we were.”

Per the ACLU: "Three years after their harrowing ordeal, Kerlin and her sister are attending high school and working. Kerlin is dreaming of law school, while her sister wants to be a veterinarian or nurse. The sisters now have some of the support and opportunities they deserve, yet the trauma they experienced will last a lifetime."

Next Up

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.


Police: Woman found dead with 'traumatic injuries' inside Moorhead home

Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 7.59.36 AM

St. Paul's East Side Bar closes after two-and-a-half years in business

The bar opened just as the COVID-19 pandemic closed bars and restaurants.

Police tape

Police: Man and woman found dead inside Rochester home

An investigation is ongoing as of Friday morning.


Hospital chiefs say nursing strike will come at 'worst possible time'

A nurses union announced an almost three-week strike to take place in the Twin Cities.


Sven Sundgaard: What's in store for MN's weather in December?

Sundgaard recaps Minnesota's fall and looks ahead to December.


Manure spill in Wisconsin leads to hours-long main street disruption

The spill was first reported just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.


Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

ACLU lawsuit alleges excessive force by Worthington police officer

The ACLU says the victim required five days of intensive care.

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 11.02.19 PM

Judge: MN county broke law by detaining, transferring immigrants to ICE

The immigrants were detained even after they had earned their release.

prison, Rush City cell block

ACLU lawsuit against Minnesota DOC can move forward, judge rules

The lawsuit alleges the Minnesota Department of Corrections violated inmates rights through its handling of the pandemic.

Imam Abdirahman Aden Kariye

Lawsuit: Border officials' questioning of MN imam is unconstitutional

The lawsuit calls the questioning illegal and invasive.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

Worthington settles police brutality lawsuit for $590,000, agrees to reforms

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who spent five days in the ICU after being arrested.

Image from iOS (48)

ACLU sues Minneapolis PD over actions against journalists covering protests

The lawsuit says police pepper-sprayed and threatened journalists, among other things.

George Floyd

ACLU protester lawsuit against Minneapolis, MPD will move forward

A federal judge denied motions to dismiss the suit.

Ricky Eloy Ramirez

Texas man not guilty of murder at Burnsville hotel due to mental illness

Ricky Eloy Ramirez was charged with second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Sheldon Jeremy Williams in July.