Success Story: A Lost Childhood

When Sandra was 9 years old, her mother sold her to a stranger who smuggled her into the United States. For several years Sandra was moved between different homes throughout Texas and forced to work as a servant. Many days she would go without food or suffer physical abuse. She was never paid for her work and never attended school. Eventually Sandra was placed with an elderly woman who needed constant care. The woman’s daughter recognized that Sandra’s situation wasn’t right and she needed help. Though Sandra isn’t sure what happened, the woman’s daughter assured her that she would never be forced to work again. She was 15 years old when the family saved her from that life.

Several years later, Sandra found herself the mother of two young children, renting a home, and working as a nanny. One of her children’s fathers wanted custody of their child and threatened to have her deported. Not knowing what to do, Sandra turned to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) for help.

After reviewing her situation, TRLA attorneys recognized that Sandra was a victim of trafficking and helped her secure a visa to stay in the United States legally while providing her with a work permit and a path to citizenship. TRLA also helped Sandra with her child custody dispute. Knowing that Sandra needed additional support to get her life back on track, TRLA attorneys connected Sandra with a local women’s shelter and resources to help her find safe and affordable housing. For the first time in her life, Sandra has control of her future and is not living in fear.

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