Immigrant mom to leave sanctuary in Ohio church after 3 years; ICE won’t immediately deport

Midwest

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After living in sanctuary in a Columbus, Ohio, church for three years, a mother of three will be able to go home without the threat of immediate deportation.

Edith Espinal’s lawyers said Thursday she’ll be able to go home after negotiating an order of supervision with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“She still has a final order of deportation, so her recent order has not been lifted. What ICE has agreed to do, is allow her to go home and to check in periodically with them,” said attorney Lizbeth Mateo.

Mateo says while the deal grants Espinal the ability to move about freely, she’ll have to meet with ICE on a monthly basis; and at the moment, they’re not sure how long this arrangement will be in place.

Espinal has lived in Columbus since 1995 and applied for asylum multiple times, but her home has been inside the Columbus Mennonite Church after she exhausted all of her appeals and was ordered to leave the country. She says this moment means everything to her.

“I know that things happen and I’m happy now to get my life back, thank you so much, thank you to all the community who’ve supported my family. But this is not over, we need to still fight,” Espinal said.

Espinal spent birthdays, holidays, and her daughter’s high school graduation inside the church walls.

“In June she graduated from high school, and I missed her graduation,” Espinal told NewsNation affiliate WCMH in 2019. “I feel very sad because when I see the picture that my husband sent to me, I’m not part of the picture.”

Her attorneys now hope that under the new Biden administration, she’ll be able to obtain the right to stay.

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