Fronteras: Effects Of Detention On Asylum-Seeking Women; Student Overcomes Obstacles, Earns Degree | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Effects Of Detention On Asylum-Seeking Women; Student Overcomes Obstacles, Earns Degree

May 23, 2019

Central American women and children seeking asylum in the U.S. often encounter a whole other level of trauma along their voyage. A new study documents the experiences previously detained women faced and the professionals who work with them.

Then, a recent UTSA graduate shares his path of pursuing a bachelor's degree after his mother was unexpectedly deported.


Laurie Cook Heffron, professor of Social Work at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and Gabriela Hurtado, licensed psychologist, co-authored the study, “Latina Immigrant Women and Children’s Well-Being and Access to Services after Detention.”
Credit Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

Detained Asylum-Seeking Women: ‘They Were Surprised By The Level Of Violence That They Were Met With’

Asylum-seeking women in the U.S. are often fleeing physical or sexual violence in their home countries, but encounter similar traumatic experiences on the route through Mexico. Women and their children are detained in cage-like fenced structures, described by some as dog kennels, and are sometimes separated from one another.

Laurie Cook Heffron, professor of Social Work at St. Edward’s University in Austin, and Gabriela Hurtado, licensed psychologist, undertook a study to examine the consequences of detention on the survivors of violence. Cook Heffron and Hurtado interviewed 29 previously detained women and professionals who work with immigrant women in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio between 2016 and 2017. Their conversations and the personal stories from the migrant women are documented in their new study, “Latina Immigrant Women and Children’s Well-Being and Access to Services after Detention.”

Read more about the study here.

Oscar Cantua at the American Astronomical Society meeting, presenting his work from his UT Austin internship, Jan. 2019.
Credit Courtesy of Oscar Cantua.

After Mother Deported, Future Astrophysicist Overcomes Obstacles, Earns College Degree

Oscar Cantua was one of 5,100 graduates at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s 2019 Spring Commencement. He received an undergraduate degree in physics but his path to graduation was a rocky one. Oscar, his mother and his older sister left Mexico when he was only five and his mother was unexpectedly deported before he graduated high school.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.