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Undocumented Immigrants in Sanctuary Ask ICE for Stays of Removal

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Undocumented Immigrants in Sanctuary Ask ICE for Stays of RemovalEdith Espinal
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After seeking sanctuary in Columbus churches for several years, undocumented immigrants Edith Espinal and Miriam Vargas may soon return home to their families.

Following the Biden administration’s decision to pause deportations for some non-citizens for 100 days, Espinal and Vargas are applying for stays of removal to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from acting on their deportation orders.

The effort began on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the offices long-held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on West Broad Street Downtown. Espinal, Vargas, and their teams attempted to submit their applications there, but were told to instead submit them at ICE’s new offices in Westerville. 

“A few people from the team went to the office in Westerville, but were told ICE couldn’t receive the applications, because they were too busy,” said Espinal, with the help of a translator. “We were told to come back on Tuesday.”

Espinal and Vargas’ teams will return to the ICE office in Westerville on Tuesday, Jan. 26. In the meantime, they’re working together to pressure U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown to publicly support the approval of their applications. Espinal is also calling on Beatty to reintroduce the private bill she originally introduced in 2019 that would offer Espinal deportation relief.

Originally from Honduras, Vargas found sanctuary at the First English Lutheran Church in 2018. Espinal is a long-time Columbus resident, originally from Mexico. She sought sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church in 2017, after her request for asylum was denied under the Trump administration, and she hasn’t left the property since. Espinal hopes that by joining together, she and Vargas can put greater pressure on elected officials and finally return home.

“It does seem different than before. I’m hoping because of Biden’s order that they will approve the stay,” Espinal said. “I feel nervous about it, but I have hope they might.”

For more information, visit facebook.com/SolidarityWithEdithEspinal.

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