AUSTIN — Laura Monterrosa was released from detention Friday evening. Her release is the result of a months long campaign that drew support from around the country.
“Despite facing retaliation inside, including solitary confinement, Laura showed incredible courage in speaking out to tell her story,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. “This is a huge victory for Laura, for all the women who have organized and spoken out, and for the community that came to their support.”
Laura broke her silence about sexual assault in detention in November 2017. Since then, supporters have rallied in front of the detention center, made phone calls and sent petitions by the thousands demanding her release. Supporters in Central Texas lined up to visit Laura daily while she was in detention.
“This shows what the power of community can do,” said Bethany Carson. “But we also know that there are more than 500 women still locked up at Hutto every single night. Our hearts are full knowing that Laura does not need to spend any more time at Hutto, but we will not stop fighting until every injustice at Hutto is addressed and the facility is closed once and for all.”
Last month, more than 45 Congressional representatives sent a letter authored by Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Rep. Joaquin Castro to the Department of Homeland Security, calling for an investigation into the treatment of sexual abuse allegations at Texas detention centers and an expedited audit to assess compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) at the T. Don Hutto detention center. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who had called for Laura’s release, also spoke personally on the phone with Laura while she was detained.
Last week, a federal judge in Austin heard a habeas petition and temporary restraining order filed in her case. It was only after a settlement in the case that ICE was ordered to provide external mental health care. The FBI has also opened an investigation into Ms. Monterrosa’s case.
Laura is adjusting to her new environment and recovering from the trauma she has experienced. Advocates will follow-up with a statement from Laura in the coming days. Members of the media who have questions for Laura, should email them in advance to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claudia Muñoz, email@example.com, 512-499-8111