This Salvadoran Mother of 3 Survived Years of Abuse—Only to End Up Trapped in a Uniquely American Nightmare

Veronica Zepeda was deported twice, even though she was scared to go home. Then she was locked in immigration detention with no hope of getting asylum.

Feature (NATIONAL)

Madison Pauly
Mother Jones
July 28, 2017

Tags: Asylum, Domestic Violence

Organizations mentioned/involved: Pangea Legal Services (CA)


Six months later, she is still locked up in Mesa Verde Detention Facility, a Bakersfield, California, immigrant detention center run by one of the country’s most powerful private prison companies. Mother Jones has reconstructed Zepeda’s path to and experience at Mesa Verde based on documents submitted as part of her immigration case, medical records, a translated interview with Zepeda, and interviews with her lawyers.

What emerges is a complicated case for sanctuary in the United States—centered on an immigrant who has faced persecution in two different countries, both El Salvador and Mexico, and has already tried multiple times to cross the US border. Her history as a survivor of domestic violence only makes matters more complicated.