COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Edith Espinal is just one of seven undocumented immigrant women living in sanctuary churches across the country that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has withdrawn fines against.
For two years Espinal has been living in sanctuary at the Columbus Mennonite Church.
On Tuesday, ICE announced it was withdrawing the nearly half-million dollars fine against Espinal and the other women that was issued in July.
“We knew that these exorbitant fines were illegal and nothing more than a tool to scare our clients and retaliate against them for fighting back and standing up to this administration.” said Lizbeth Mateo, attorney for Edith Espinal. “We know we have strong legal arguments and ICE recognizes that, even if they claim that this decision was based only on discretion. But even if that were the case, ICE has demonstrated with this that they have the power to exercise discretion — the same way they can use discretion to drop these fines, they can use it to release the sanctuary families.”
An immigration status has her facing deportation.
Espinal has lived in Columbus since 1995 and has applied for asylum multiple times, but for the last two years, her home has been inside of a church after she exhausted all of her appeals and was ordered to leave the country.
She hopes soon she can walk out of that church a free woman.