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December 3, 2019
SURVIVOR OF:
domestic violence

My name is Silvia.

I have lived in the United States for almost thirty years. After arriving, I started and ran my own business, owned a home, raised a beautiful family, and loved my community.

Then, two years ago, I went to renew my driver’s license. The DMV employee threatened to call the police because I didn’t have a social security number. It wasn’t long until Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was called and before I knew it, they deported me.

I was sent to Mexico – to the home where my mother had abused me throughout my childhood; where I had studied law and art until I was forced to escape my mother’s house; where I had returned, briefly, after leaving an abusive ex-husband.

Five days after I was deported to Mexico, I received a text from my violent ex-husband. He knew where I was. He was coming to find me.

I had no choice but to flee to the U.S. once again. This time, when I arrived, I was immediately placed in detention and removal proceedings.

Although I eventually won asylum, the Department of Homeland Security appealed my case. It was then that I was introduced to Tahirih’s legal team.

Fifteen months after arriving at the border, I was released from detention and met with my sponsor who welcomed me to California. Tahirih was there and ready to connect me with the resources I needed to get back on my feet.

Even after all this, my journey wasn’t over. I wanted to go home to Houston where I had a job lined up and could be with my family, but I needed my ankle monitor removed in order to do so.

I knew that that could only happen at an ICE office, but they had refused once already. This time, I brought my Tahirih attorney, Rachel. She explained to the ICE agents that I had relief under the Convention Against Torture. They told us to wait. So, we waited. And waited.

While we sat, I showed Rachel pictures of my children and grandchildren, all U.S. citizens. I wanted nothing more than to be with them again.

Finally, I was handed my paperwork. I signed. My ankle monitor was cut.

I turned to Rachel and told her, “I’m free.”

We walked out of the building. It was chilly. I reminded myself I was on my way to Houston. To warmth, to family, to a new job, to my home.

Names may have been changed to protect client privacy and safety. Photo may not depict actual client.

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