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Mother (33) and children (10, 9 and 3)

 Letter 10 pg 1 of 2 Letter 10 pg 2 of 2


My name is Sonia Elizabeth Hernandez Amaya, 33 years old, Salvadoran, number A [redacted]; mother of Josselyn [redacted], 10 years old, Number A [redacted], Valentin [redacted], 9 years old, number A [redacted]; and Moises [redacted], 3 years old, number A [redacted].

We were detained on 1 August 2014, or shall we say that I have 6 months and 24 days being detained. We were 5 days in La Hielera, terribly cold, sleeping on the floor of cold cement, we would cover ourselves with aluminum paper, the federales would count us every 2 or 3 hours, would get us up and the sleeping children to go outside and they would strike the door hard with their clubs and they would discriminate against us, they would say that we were dirty, that we had no reason to come here to this country. After 5 days they took us out and sent us to another place that looked like a dog kennel, because they looked like cages for dogs, and there we stayed one day, and on 6 of August they took me and my children out to this detention center. When I arrived here they told me that my case would last from 2 to 3 months because I had a deportation 8 years ago. 3 months went by and then the immigration people came and they told me that that I would stay another 3 months, and that I had no right to a bond, but that my children did. But that they would interview them because they had to have their own case because in my case they did not apply. They made their interview and they came out positive. I spoke with an official who has my case and I asked what was to happen, he said that if the judge gave a bond to the children, I would also get out with them because immigration would let me out. The date for my court arrived for my sons, but the judge did not want to give a bond, but I did not understand why because to the others he did give them a bond, but the judge said to me that he would not close my case for bond. Now my attorney is appealing so the judge or immigration will tell me what is going to happen.

I feel frustrated, desperate, worried because, why so much time, and now immigration won’t let us out. My children don’t eat because the food is terrible, the water when we drink makes our stomachs hurt and we get bloated. When I take some of my children to the doctor, it takes a long time for them to see the children, after an hour and a half they see us and tell the mother, “give him water”. If a child goes with diarrhea, they give him 2 bananas, and that is all. My son, 3 years old, has a problem with his eyes, he has been there months and they tell me, wash his eyes with warm water and apply a paste they gave me, but it does not work. When it is time for the count, which is 3 times a day, the first count is at 7:30am, the second at 4 pm, and the last at 8 at night, and we have to take the children even though they are asleep, because if not they will report us and they say that this will affect the judge and the court. The officials have told us that they will deport us because our case is a lost one even though we have a reasonable case, and our sons case is positive. One has already left who had 4 deportations and for the rest of us they don’t want us to leave, I don’t know what is happening. I want to leave this place. The women that newly arrived ask me how much time I have here, and what hurts me most is see them enter and leave– families come in, and I stay here. My children ask me: “What is wrong mama, why don’t we leave?” I ask that you help us. We are not a threat for this country, all I want is refuge in this country for my children and for me.


Translation donated by Rebecca O. Flores


Also see Meredith Hoffman’s article, “Escaping Into Prison: The Battle Over Immigrant Mothers and Children Detained by the US,” VICE News, March 5, 2015.

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