COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It’s been almost a week since Edith Espinal’s deportation deadline. The Mexican mother is still in Columbus, after seeking sanctuary at a Clintonville church earlier this month.
On Monday, her 19-year-old son Brandow Gonzalez Espinal went for his regular check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He’s also undocumented and has a court date regarding his status in 2020. Brandow said for the last few months he’s been required to check-in with ICE every two weeks, along with monthly home visits and phone calls.
“Today’s check-in was especially tense just because this was the first check-in since his mother sought sanctuary and we were really excited to hear that ICE was actually going to give him 6 months for his next check-in,” said family advocate Mohammad Abdollahi. “This shows that the community support is really working, that ICE knows that this family has a lot of support and there’s a lot of people vying for them to be released and allowed to be reunited as a family.”
It’s a small sigh of relief for the Espinal family.
“So many times I’ve seen her cry, now I can see her smile, for now,” said Brandow. “They were using me to get to my mom.”
He said he believes it was unnecessary for him to meet with ICE so frequently, because his first court date isn’t for a few years.
“I can finally focus and be more with my family. It’s a stress reliever for me, not just for me but for my mom,” said Brandow. “I just want to thank the whole community, that’s supporting us, not just me but my mom, my family…helped us through this small victory.”
Abdollahi with DreamActivist.org said there’s still a lot more work to be done.
“We got involved in this case because we have a mother here who can actually adjust her status. People always talk about how immigrants should get in line and this is a unique situation where this family can get in line,” he said.
Abdollahi said Edith’s oldest child, Isidro, is 21 and a U.S. Citizen. He’s trying to sponsor his mother, so she can legalize her status.
But, Abdollahi said the government has blocked the effort, because Edith had been deported back in 2009.
“We’re talking about situation of a family that’s lived here for 21 years, has never been in trouble, has always given back to the community and yet they cannot legalize their status, even though on paper they have a process to do so,” he said. “That just shows that the system is broken.”
Abdollahi said the church is the only place ICE has said it will not come inside to take Edith away. He said that their family has decided to have her live there as long as it takes until she’s allowed to apply for citizenship.