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Deported teen mom who’d attempted suicide will return to U.S.

Deported teen mom who attempted suicide talks about time in family detention

In an exclusive interview, Lilian Oliva Bardales, 19, speaks out about her treatment at a Texas family detention center after she cut her wrist, was put on suicide watch and then abruptly deported. (Nincy Perdomo/McClatchy)
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In an exclusive interview, Lilian Oliva Bardales, 19, speaks out about her treatment at a Texas family detention center after she cut her wrist, was put on suicide watch and then abruptly deported. (Nincy Perdomo/McClatchy)

A teenage mother who was deported to Honduras after attempting suicide will return to the United States to continue her asylum case, according to her lawyer.

The Department of Homeland Security will allow Lilian Oliva Bardales, who is now 20, and her 5-year-old son to return to the United States after the highest immigration court ruled that Oliva did not receive effective legal counsel during the eight months she was held at a south Texas family detention center.

It’s a major statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the Board of Immigration Appeals court after her controversial removal last summer. The ruling may also make it easier for other deported mothers to argue they did not receive adequate representation and should also have the opportunity to return to the United States to continue their cases.

Oliva and her son were deported back to Honduras last June six days after she’d cut her wrists in the bathroom of the Karnes Residential Center in Karnes, Texas. In an interview with McClatchy, Oliva said she had been taken from her young son, stripped naked in front of screaming staffers, put into isolation and then hidden at a hotel before a hasty deportation.

Justice is now happening for her.

Bryan Johnson, immigration attorney

U.S. immigration officials argue that Oliva had every opportunity to prove she deserved asylum.

Oliva was initially denied her request for asylum because she was no longer with the partner who she said had beaten and raped her. But the appeals court said she could be eligible for protection under a legal case known as A-R-C-G. That case involved a Guatemalan woman who received asylum after a court determined that her home country had a “culture of machismo and family violence” and police hadn’t responded to her repeated complaints.

“Justice is now happening for her,” said Oliva’s attorney, Bryan Johnson. “Up until now, she had no hope on the horizon to have her asylum case heard.”

In October, Oliva fled Honduras again to live with a cousin in Western Europe. She and her son, Christian, are living in a room only slightly larger than the room at the family detention center.

The United States has always been the place where I wanted to be.

Lilian Oliva Bardales, 20, who will return after being deported

Her next hearing has not been scheduled, but Johnson said it could happen within the next three months. He said the government also had agreed not to send Oliva back to a family detention center.

“I’m very happy to get to continue my case. The United States has always been the place where I wanted to be,” Oliva said in an interview from Europe, where she said she had moved to escape dangers in Honduras.

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