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December 3, 2019

My name is Maria.

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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  • Maria
    "We can overcome unthinkable situations. Every mother should have the opportunity to fight for justice for themselves and their family. We deserve to be heard and we deserve to be free of violence."
    February 23rd, 2021
  • Allan
    “Looking back, I see that I had the strength and resolve the whole time. Because of trauma, we tell ourselves we can’t do it. But in reality, we have overcome so much, and we will continue to overcome. I’m going to continue pressing forward to reach my dreams.”
    February 23rd, 2021
  • Photograph of Maryam
    "I would not be where I am today if it were not for Tahirih’s dedication to provide me with legal, social, and moral support."
    February 23rd, 2021