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This article was originally published in Teen Vogue on January 18, 2019. You can access the original article here:

Actor and musician, Penn Badgley, wrote an op-ed for Teen Vogue, about his experiences advocating for Tahirih client, Vilma Carrillo Carrillo. Badgley accompanied Tahirih Atlanta Executive Director, Shana Tabak, to visit Vilma at Irwin Detention Center in Georgia.

“When I met Vilma on December 14, she wept openly during our visit as she wondered what she had done wrong. She passed me colorful handmade bracelets through the plexiglass barrier and asked if Shana and I thought her daughter would like them. One read, “Feliz Navidad” — just in time for Christmas,” writes Badgley.

“I could only imagine Yeisvi wanting more than bracelets in her mother’s absence, but she’ll take what she can get. I told Vilma they were beautiful, and they were. Vilma is beautiful. I was disarmed by how often she was able to smile inside this facility, which felt designed to impress futility and the necessity of submission upon us both. She is profound in her faith; she prayed to God and trusted that her prayers were being heard. Vilma saw her pro bono attorneys as answers to her prayers.”

Vilma and Yeisvi were reunited about four weeks after Badgley and Tabak’s visit.

“After 246 days apart, Yeisvi is finally reunited with her mom,” Badgley writes.  “She will either grow up in a United States that values her rights as a citizen and the unity of her family or one that values the use of fear over all else. The question that haunts me: Which country will Yeisvi grow up in?”

Read the full article here.