COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A mother of three who has lived in Columbus for the last 20 years is speaking out about the stress she and her family are facing as her deportation nears.
Edith Espinal now lives in a room on the second floor of the Columbus Mennonite Church. With all her appeals exhausted and her deportation scheduled, Espinal took sanctuary inside the church Monday morning.
She moved into the church in hope that she will be safe there.
“My daughter and my husband stayed with me last night and they’ll be staying again tonight as well so my family has access to this place even though I can’t leave,” Espinal said.
She still has an ankle bracelet so immigration officials know where to find her, but the agency has generally avoided making arrests at schools or churches.
Last month, with her latest appeal rejected, Espinal was forced to buy a plane ticket for her deportation back to Mexico. Her flight is scheduled for next week.
Two of her three children were born here. Espinal says the stress of her situation has been hard on the whole family, particularly her 16-year-old daughter.
Espinal described a situation at her check with immigration last month when her daughter asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about her mother’s ankle bracelet. Espinal said her daughter was escorted from the room and spoken to harshly.
“What the other official told her is like, ‘You come in here thinking you’re the princess of the world and you have no right to come in here and speak like that to an official,’” Espinal said.
Her daughter was reduced to tears and Edith said she felt powerless to defend her.
“Ordinarily I would defend my daughter like any parent would because they made her cry right there, and I wanted to say something to them but I knew that I couldn’t because I was there and they could have held me or done something to me,” she said.
Espinal said she’s grateful for the support of the church and others in the community and plans to keep fighting to stay. While in sanctuary she said she is now hoping to enlist support from political leaders.
“I specifically want to call on Senator Portman and also Senator Brown and Governor Kasich to say something to intercede on my behalf with the Department of Homeland Security and with immigration,” she said.