Home breadcrumb spacer Refugees breadcrumb spacer Refugee Voices breadcrumb spacer 

Yolanda

From our trip to Arizona, June 2010

Yolanda* is 16 years old and comes from El Salvador. She made the journey to the U.S. alone—without any family or friends. Yolanda traveled thousands of miles relying on coyotes, or paid guides, to lead her through the mountains and deserts of Mexico. She was raped several times by different coyotes she had trusted to deliver her safely to the U.S.

After finally reaching the border, she hid on the side of a snow covered mountain for days, waiting for a safe moment to cross. Yolanda was so hungry and dehydrated she ate snow to survive. When Customs and Border Patrol picked her up, she was exhausted, dehydrated, bruised and bloodied from the coyotes’ beatings.

Yolanda was taken to a nearby hospital, undressed in front of male guards and shackled to the bed. It was here she discovered that she was pregnant as a result of her assaults.

*Names have been changed to protect women and children