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José is a 25-year-old gay man from El Salvador, who lives in California. He fled to the United States when he was 17 to escape attacks and sexual abuse by homophobic gang members.

In 2013, José was detained by immigration officials in Oakland after returning from visiting his partner’s father in New Mexico. He was sent far from his home in Oakland to a detention center in South Texas, where he spent five months. He was re-traumatized in detention, living every day in fear with the constant threat of deportation. His partner, who is a U.S. citizen, was finally able to pay his bond and they returned to California.

José’s only way to avoid returning to the violence in El Salvador was applying for asylum. José won his asylum case last year in San Francisco and now hopes to become a psychologist to help others who have suffered trauma.