Note: Details of this story deal with sensitive subjects such as sexual assault.
SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Local immigrant rights groups are getting a boost from a Hollywood actress.
Alyssa Milano was in San Diego on Wednesday to shine a spotlight on the effort to provide immigrants facing deportation access to legal services.
Milano joined activists in the morning where many speakers were heard.
"I remember being given documents and papers in English - a language I didn't know. People asked me to sign these things, but I had no idea what they were, honestly,” said Wendy who fled from El Salvador where she says life was filled with daily beatings and sexual assault.
“When I was 7 years old a family member raped me,” said Wendy. "He used to rape me every day for an entire year - he stopped when I turned 8. This is my life in El Salvador and this is why I escaped.”
Wendy spoke at the news conference at San Diego's Civic Center Plaza hosted by actor and activist Milano who is helping to raise money for the SAFE families Fund - so children facing immigration issues can be have legal representation. https://www.vera.org/donate/supportSAFE
“Everyone deserves basic information about their legal rights, access to justice and a fair day in court,” said Milano.
She says it's not a fair fight as the government has skilled attorneys, but people appearing in immigration court currently have no right to legal counsel if they cannot afford it.
"Immigrants facing deportation with access to an attorney are up to 10 times more likely to end up staying in the country with their families and on the job, supporting their local economy,” said Milano.
Several attorneys familiar with the legal system for immigration also spoke at Wednesday’s news conference saying it's very complex making it extremely difficult to navigate.
Wendy is in deportation proceedings right now and is thankful she has an attorney giving her a fighting chance.
"I am lucky that I have legal options to stop my deportation,” she said. “I am finally getting free from all these people who abused me.”