Sanctuary: Columbus Mennonite Church
Edith Espinal has been in sanctuary since October of 2017. It is now almost three years since she hasn’t been home with her husband and three children, Isidro, 22, Brandow, 20, and Stephanie, 17. In 2013 Edith was granted parole to enter the US and seek asylum. For the following four years, Edith appeared at her asylum hearings in Cleveland, Ohio as well as regular ICE check-ins, usually accompanied by volunteers.
In 2016, Edith received her final order of removal after an immigration judge failed to grant Edith’s asylum application. Edith went into sanctuary to keep her family together as she moved to reopen her asylum case. Edith’s oldest son Isidro filed a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for her to become a legal resident as soon as he turned 21 year old. However, due to our broken immigation system Edith is not able to adjust status through her US Citizen son.
In February of this year, the Columbus City Council passed a symbolic resolution in support of Edith after she actively organized with members of her community to ask for support from local and national politicians. Unfortunately, two months ago, Ruben Castilla Herrera, one of the lead organizers coordinating local efforts for Edith’s campaign passed away unexpectedly. Amid the grief and heartache, Edith has continued to fight to reopen her case.
Unfortunately, in May 2019, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Edith’s Motion to Reopen her asylum case. Edith’s attorney then filed a notice of appeal with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is currently pending. Only a few weeks later, Edith received a notice from DHS letting her know that the Department intends to fine her in the amount of $497,777.
Edith is asking Senator Portman and U.S. Representative Joyce Beatty for support. Specifically, Edith is asking for a private bill for herself, her family, and the many other people who are currently in sanctuary. In her own words: “Everything feels bad and I worry it will be worse, but we have to keep fighting,” Espinal said. “Immigration is looking for a way to get us out of sanctuary. I think that’s why they’re sending these letters. I don’t know what their next step will be. I don’t know if they will come inside the church, so in Columbus, we are ready for anything to happen. We are thinking about everything.”