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Scott Hechinger @ScottHech
, 18 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
This is Nilda & her 2-year-old. Forcibly separated in Texas. Nilda was held in 5 detention centers over 2 months. Told: “This is what happens when you come to our country.” She doesn’t know what happened to Keyden. Just that’s he’s changed. Their story:
I met Nilda shortly after reconnecting w/ Keyden. My office (@BklynDefender) mobilized teams of bilingual social workers & immigration attorneys when ICE sent children to NYC. Ensured planned reunions actually happened & provided trauma counseling. Nilda & Keyden were clients.
She was strong from the beginning. Clear that she wanted to tell her story. “If I don’t, nothing will change.” She recounted the harrowing journey. Why she fled her home in La Ceiba, Honduras & risked everything to come to the U.S. She expected: “A country of freedom & safety.”
In Honduras, Nilda survived attempted rape by a relative, beatings so bad she had to get dental surgery, & held hostage w/ Keyden by an armed gang member, only to be warned “leave or be killed” bc they thought she’d go to the police. So she fled. Through Guatemala to Mexico.
She held onto the side of a train — “La Bestia” (The Beast) — for *17 hours* with Keyden tied around her with a sweatshirt. Didn’t sleep till she got close to the border. (Photos by Adam Newport-Berra, DP of the brilliant video “I found you/Nilda’s Story: )
She tried to cross, but the water was too deep. So walked across this bridge. Swiftly arrested by Customs & Border Parrol (@CBP) & held in the freezing cold in a detention center in Eagle Pass, TX. Wouldn’t let her feed Keyden. She requested asylum. They ripped her from him.
Held in 4 detention centers in Texas: Eagle Pass, Valverde, Maverick, Sourh Texas. She kept track of days/places w/ a pen/pad she was given. Spoke to no one except to ask about Keyden. No one told her. A month and some passed by. Then flown to NYC. Told she’d see him. They lied.
You MUST watch this true, beautiful, powerful, painful music video for the rest of her story. Nilda feels like it respects her struggle. Watching it with her was the most emotional experience of my life. Crying: “I can’t believe this has been my life.”
Nilda’s struggle continues. Released but w/ an ankle monitor. Few resources to afford necessities. Work authorization takes forever. While she now has a lawyer, her asylum claim is tough. Why? Sessions ruled domestic & gang violence dont qualify👇
But here’s the thing. She’s far from alone. Currently 1 million+ immigrants living in US w/ open cases. 300k+ applying for asylum. They struggle like Nilda & most have no access to a lawyer. Nilda asked us to help. So we launched a campaign in her honor:
#WhileTheyWait helps this oft-overlooked group of immigrants, raises funds for them to get back on their feet, & calls for a national right to counsel. While we focus (rightfully) on border & child caging & death, we too quickly forget about people once released. Already here.
Remember this story of 200 migrants released by @ICEgov & just dropped off around Christmas at an El Paso bus stop with no plan, no direction, nothing?…
Or this story by @DLind on Trump’s plan to mass release immigrant families in 2019 from detention. Sounds great, but what’s the plan for after? Without help: it’s poverty, confusion, homelessness, & an ability to work. All with no right to a lawyer.…
That’s where #WhileTheyWait comes in. First: The “While They Wait” FUND.

@BklynDefender & @RAICESTEXAS have teamed up to coordinate a fund to provide money for necessities, pay immigration fees, & expand the right to counsel. You can give now right here:
Second: The PETITION. @BklynDefender @ACLUSoCal & @RAICESTEXAS teamed up to call for a National Right to Counsel in immigration proceedings. You have a right when charged w/ a crime, but not if facing deporation. We want to change this. Join the
I have a request.

This morning, Nilda reached out. Asked via WhatsApp how everything was going. Wrote (in Spanish): “I hope the campaign will move a lot of people to act.” *I want to give her good news.* So...

For Nilda, please:

Watch her story:
For Nilda, please:

Give to the “#WhileTheyWait” Fund so she and so many like her receive needed assistance with necessities, immigration fees, & access to legal counsel while their immigration cases are ongoing:
For Nilda, please Act:

Join the movement to demand a National Right to Counsel in immigration proceedings. Its only fair: People should be assisted against government lawyers trying to deport them:
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