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Yesenia

Yesenia, a mother in her 30’s, was walking home from the supermarket in her neighborhood at dusk. A Border Patrol agent stopped her and asked what she was doing. She said she had been shopping and was headed home. He asked her for her ID. She didn’t have one. He said there had been a robbery near the supermarket and he wanted to see what was in her bags. He looked and told her to get in the car. He said he was calling ICE because she had no ID. Yesenia begged the agent not to call ICE because her 3 young children were at home alone and there was no father in the family. He refused. ICE came and picked her up. Yesenia was raped and taken to ICE detention. She was traumatized and there was no one to talk to or help her. The next day, she was transferred to and incarcerated in the Florence detention facility. Yesenia, crying hysterically, was able to speak to her sister on the phone and get care for her 3 children. By the time Yesenia’s bond hearing took place, she had again been abused—this time in the Florence facility—and entered her bond hearing trembling, terrified and bruised. Bond was set at $7,500. She did not have that amount of money and she didn’t have an attorney. She cleaned houses for a living. Her kids aged 5, 11, and 16 years old were completely dependent on her. When family members were finally able to visit her, they were horrified to see the bruises and physical abuse she had endured. They tried to comfort her. She was inconsolable. Terrified whenever a guard came near her, she had a psychological breakdown and sat in a corner of her cell continually crying. After sitting for 4 months in the Florence detention facility, family members, friends and a brother-in-law’s employer were finally able to come up with the money for the bond. Yesenia has never been the same. She refused to leave the house. Her 16-year old son became the family caretaker of his mom and the other children. He ended up dropping out of school to get a job. Eventually, they went to live with Yesenia’s sister. A number of years later they were able to get an attorney at a reduced cost. Her children were all U.S. citizens and her case was administratively closed. Yesenia frequently sits in a chair and rocks and barely manages to hug or engage with her children who she loves. This experience and ordeal has ruined her life and severely impacted her family.