Hilda Ramírez Méndez & Iván

Sanctuary: St. Andrew’s Church
Location: Austin, Texas

Hilda is an indigenous Guatemalan mother who has been in sanctuary with her 13 year old son for almost four years. Her story and kind spirit have inspired the congregation and all of the Austin Sanctuary Network to take bold action in support of her. Hilda fled Guatemala fearing for her life at the hands of her son’s father. “I’ve considered leaving my child here, by himself, even if I get deported,” Ramírez said, explaining that she wants a better life for her son, one that she is not able to provide for him in their rural town in Guatemala. Ramírez said there is no respect for the lives of women there, “I want him to be a different man,” she said. “I want him to respect women.” Hilda is willing to endure the hardships of sanctuary so that Ivan can have a brighter future.

Upon entering the U.S., Hilda presented herself to immigration authorities as an asylum seeker and, rather than receive help, she was bused to the Karnes detention center where she and Ivan were incarcerated for 11 months. After courageously participating in a hunger strike, Hilda and Ivan were released from detention. However, Hilda was ordered to wear an ankle monitor for many more months of check-ins with immigration authorities.

This means that both have felt a form of detention the whole time they have been in the U.S, which has significantly affected their mental health. Since entering sanctuary, Hilda has missed almost 4 of Ivan’s school years, his soccer games and meet-the-teacher nights, and she has been forced to be an absent mother because of her deportation order.

Ivan currently has a pending Special Immigrant Juvenile Status visa application. Hilda recently received a fine from ICE for the amount of $303,620. She is asking for a private bill so she and her son can finally be free.