CIVIC works to connect immigrants in detention to a community of support on the outside and that is exactly what CIVIC is doing for two women. But we need your support!
Last week, CIVIC reported on the confinement of Sergio Vazquez Gutierrez, a young man who was dying in the Santa Ana City Jail. Because of the support of advocates across the country, Sergio was released last Friday night. A big shout out to Mariana Huerta of ROC-United, Munmeeth Soni of the Public Law Center, CIVIC visitor volunteers, and the many advocates who worked to gain Sergio’s release from detention.
However, over 32,000 men and women, like Ellie and Claudia, continue to be confined in U.S. immigration detention today.
Ellie’s Story: Ellie is a 37-year old, transgender woman from South America who has been in detention for over 15 months. Ellie has been in the United States for only a few years. She fled her country after she was gang raped and nearly murdered. She was forced to hide her sexual orientation and gender identity in her country of origin. As a result, Ellie has suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for a long time, and her conditions worsened after the most recent episode of violence that she suffered in her home country. When she came to the United States seeking refuge, she isolated herself socially because she lived in constant fear that she may get deported. Unfortunately, Ellie engaged in self-destructive behavior and began to use drugs to cope with her feelings of trauma, depression, anxiety, and social isolation. She was arrested and convicted for possession of a controlled substance. She completed her sentence in jail and afterwards was placed in immigration custody. CIVIC visitor volunteers are uniting to help Ellie, and the Public Law Center is representing her.
Ellie was recently given a $5000 bond, and CIVIC hopes to raise money through the support of the First Unitarian Church Bond Fund to gain her release. Ellie has a sister in the United States who also is trying to collect some funds to help pay the bond, but her sister is undocumented and is struggling to survive and support her own family. If Ellie is not released on bond, it is likely that she will remain in detention for a very long time because she is appealing the immigration judge’s decision denying her relief. While in detention, Ellie was diagnosed with severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and she requires appropriate mental health care, which the Program for Torture Victims in Los Angeles has agreed to provide if Ellie is released from immigration custody.
Claudia’s Story: Claudia is a 40-year old, HIV-positive, transgender woman from Central America. She was brought to the United States at a very young age and was abandoned by her family soon after she came here. Claudia had a stable life before she received her HIV diagnosis after which point she began to engage in self-destructive behavior: She was twice arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Claudia has received a $2,500 bond, and CIVIC hopes to raise money through the support of the First Unitarian Church Bond Fund to gain her release. Claudia has been in immigration custody for over nine months, and she requires better medical and mental health care. If she is able to bond out, she is likely to have a better chance to win her case and obtain immigration relief that will allow her to remain in the United States. Claudia is still awaiting a hearing before the immigration judge, and she is supported by CIVIC volunteers and the pro bono counsel of the Public Law Center. Claudia does not have any family members or friends who can assist her with paying the bond.
Let’s Win Claudia and Ellie’s Release!
CIVIC has teamed up with the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles to raise money for Sergio’s bond. To give a tax-deductible donation, please DONATE HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO CLAUDIA’S AND ELLIE’S BOND FUND.
- Follow these instructions to donate: Under the “Programs” section, please click “Other” and write “Immigration Detention Bond Fund.”
- The Bond Fund has a little over $1000. 100% of your donation will go toward paying Ellie’s and Claudia bonds or toward helping other human beings gain their freedom from immigration detention by paying their bond.
- History of the Bond Fund: Since 2007, First Unitarian Church’s Immigration Bond Fund has been run by Rochelle McAdam and has been used to post bond for eligible candidates in immigration detention. Each bond has cost between $1,500 and $3,000, and the Bond Fund had been successful in gaining the release of eight individuals, most of whom were detained in the Mira Loma Detention Facility in Lancaster, California (a detention facility now closing).