The members of this mental and behavioral health research team feel honored to have been able to work on the issue of Central American women and children’s refugee immigrant detention experiences. We thank the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) for this opportunity and wish to acknowledge UUSC’s efforts to address and improve the treatment of Central American refugees. We are especially grateful to Amber Moulton, our contact person, and to Rachel Gore Freed for their assistance in extending their list of contacts and community partners. We are indebted to the staff of RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) for providing invaluable support, without which we could not have accomplished this research. In particular, we thank the indefatigable and always patient Mohammad (Mo) Abdollahi, who facilitated our field trip, meetings, and clearances at the Dilley detention facility.

We would like to acknowledge the Cara Pro Bono Project and its team of dedicated attorneys and paralegals, especially Brian Hoffman and Aseem Mehta, who dedicate their time and efforts to providing legal representation to refugees. There were many more volunteers on the legal team whom we feel proud and uplifted to have met, who have made a commitment to civil, constitutional, and human rights, and whose efforts we hope will be recognized and long remembered by the women and children who they have helped along the way. We trust they will know we acknowledge their efforts and commitments too.

We thank the volunteers of RAICES and the Mennonite Church for providing shelter and comfort to these refugee women and children and a respite on a difficult journey. For us, the Hospitality House signified moral values that should serve as an example to all and a reminder of our shared humanity.

We would also like to thank Nora Angelica Benavides, Maricarmen Vizcaino, and Maria Torres, graduate students from the University of Texas at El Paso, who very capably transcribed and translated hours of recorded interviews for this report.

Our efforts to assess the mental and behavioral health of refugee Central American women and children has been a life-changing experience for members of our research team. We express our commitment to join a list of people and organizations who are seeking to keep this issue alive and visible until we are able to end the separation and detention of women and children refugees.

Finally, we acknowledge the brave women of Central America who have made their way to the United States in horrendous circumstances seeking to keep their children and themselves alive. We hope we have been able to contribute in some small way.

Kathleen O’Connor, PhD [1]
Claire Thomas-Duckwitz, PhD, LP [2] 
Guillermina Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, PhD [3]

[1] University of Texas at El Paso School of Nursing, kaoconnor2 @
[2] Adjunct Faculty at the University of Northern Colorado, clairethomaseduckwitz @ 
[3] University of Texas at El Paso Department of Women’s Studies, ggnunez @

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