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    From our trip to Arizona, June 2010
    A survivor of domestic abuse who feared for her life, Maria* fled her home in Guatemala to seek refuge in the United States. Over the course of her determined attempt to find a life free of violence, Maria was raped and beaten by her coyote guide, thrown to the ground by a U.S. border patrol officer, jailed with no food or water, and returned to the Mexico border. She crossed the border four times before being detained at a facility in Arizona, where she is waiting for a verdict on her application for asylum as a survivor of domestic violence. When we met Maria in June of 2010 she was being held, indefinitely, in a facility fit for prisoners.

    Tragically, Maria’s story is all too common. As more and more vulnerable migrants leave their home countries seeking protection and security across international borders, governments around the world are using detention as a response to an increased influx of asylum seekers, refugees and other displaced persons. Women like Maria are held in detention for months, even years with little or no access to critical psychological, legal, and medical services. Detainees are denied basic rights, held under conditions which fail to meet international standards and are treated like felons, often being held in the same facilities as sex offenders and other criminals.

    *Names have been changed to protect women and children