B- and her six-year-old daughter just received a gift of immeasurable value: the gift of safety, of security, of freedom from fear. They had been through torment the likes of which I hope no one ever faces, but they made it through and I was privileged to help them.
B- is a survivor of childhood abuse and intimate partner violence, born and raised in Honduras. She had been deported before so she was fighting for “withholding of removal” which is a far tougher legal claim. Her withholding claim was primarily based on domestic violence she suffered in 2014, which at its ugliest, led to her miscarrying her unborn child and needing hospitalization for two days.
In case you don’t know how complicated a withholding case can get, let me share what we did in this case:
* Four legal calls with B- while she was incarcerated in the Dilley, Texas, detention center with her young daughter.
* One brief filed with nearly three hundred pages of evidence in support of the cases, including affidavits from B- and her mom, two expert declarations, and country conditions reports about femicide and domestic violence.
* One motion for leave to file supplemental evidence, so we could attach affidavits from B-’s two brothers and a friend.
* A second motion for leave to file supplemental evidence – the attached evidence included a local hospital record confirming the 2014 miscarriage and photographs of the restaurant where B-‘s ex-partner shot at her, the bedroom where he tried to drug her and abused her to the point of causing the miscarriage, and the bathroom where she hemorrhaged blood and began miscarrying her baby. The total evidentiary submission was close to 500 pages.
The result was a success, B- and her daughter were free – we went out for ice cream at the Dairy Queen and I took them to the airport in the morning. They have family members eager to welcome them home. Attached are photos from their first moments of freedom and our ice cream excursion.
Volunteers are desperately needed to help other mothers like B-. Consider taking these cases which are absolutely winnable with the assistance of counsel. B- was planning to go to her merits hearing with only a 1.5 page handwritten statement prepared by a fellow detainee. This would not have been enough to win this case.
It is disgraceful that the federal government is causing additional harm by detaining these women and their children when there are other options available. After everything she suffered, B- should not have been incarcerated, and neither should her daughter. Until family detention ends once and for all, these families need our help. They need your help. Please volunteer.
Written by Elora Mukherjee, CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project Volunteer
If you are an AILA member who wants to volunteer at a family detention center, please go to the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project page or feel free to contact Maheen Taqui at email@example.com – we could really use your help.
To watch videos of the volunteers sharing their experiences, go to this playlist on AILA National’s YouTube page. To see all the blog posts about this issue select Family Detention as the category on the right side of this page.