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Roxanne's Story

Now that I have asylum ... I don't have to hide. I'm free.

Published in 2020

When Roxanne* fled her native Haiti, she feared for her life. Male relatives had brutally beat and threatened her over a claim to her deceased mother’s land. Roxanne’s pleas for protection were met with indifference by the Haitian authorities. She was forced to go into hiding.

As soon as Roxanne had an opportunity to flee, she took it. She relocated to Brazil, but there she endured more violence at the hands of a domestic partner who on one occasion beat her so severely she nearly lost an eye. Outside of the home, Roxanne faced persistent harassment and discrimination as a Black woman and foreigner. Even after her partner’s abuse landed her in the emergency room, Brazilian authorities did nothing to protect her.

So Roxanne embarked on the treacherous route north. She traveled by bus, truck, foot, and boat, where she survived a 

terrifying accident at sea. When Roxanne requested asylum at our border, U.S. authorities imprisoned her in a remote immigration detention center before moving her to a county jail, where she languished for months in a general population cell. 

CGRS took on Roxanne’s case and immediately pushed for her release. Because Roxanne had such a strong asylum claim, in the course of litigating her case we were able to develop resources to support advocates representing other Haitian asylum seekers like her. Through our technical assistance program, we now offer advocates the model briefing we prepared for Roxanne’s case, extensive country conditions evidence, and critical expert declarations documenting the persecution of Black women and migrants in Brazil and the widespread impunity granted to perpetrators of violence against women in Haiti. 

In early 2020, we won asylum for Roxanne. She is now building a new life in the United States and sees a bright future ahead, free of violence and fear.

“Now that I have asylum, I can live, I can work, and I have access to the same opportunities others do,” Roxanne says. “I don’t have to hide. I’m free. I tell everyone about CGRS and the work we did together. My legal team of strong, brave women never let me get discouraged. I am so proud.”

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.