SILVER SPRING, Maryland - Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc is calling for the federal government to relent in its heartless plan to deport an Ohio woman who is an integral part of her community and the key to stability for her family.
Since 2016, CLINIC has been part of a team of faith-based and legal advocates who have been working on behalf of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a Mexican woman who fled gang violence 15 years ago and has become a vital part of her Hamilton, Ohio, community.
Maribel has four U.S. citizen children. Her husband is physically unable to work full time. She is a lector and religious educator at St. Julie Billiart Parish. She works full-time, with a work permit. Maribel came to the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a workplace raid in 2007 but has never been charged with a crime.
On Monday, Maribel went to a check-in with ICE and was told to come back in a month. Nevertheless, Maribel was picked up by ICE yesterday, as she headed to work. Her deportation is currently scheduled for April 11, in Holy Week.
“We are appalled at the way Maribel and her family are being treated,” said CLINIC Executive Director Jeanne Atkinson. “This is a family in a fragile situation. She is the main breadwinner for the family and the principal caregiver to her 3-year-old daughter with health problems. She is the opposite of a flight risk or a danger to the public. Maribel contributes to the strength and stability of her family, her parish and her hometown.”
When CLINIC became involved in Maribel’s case at the request of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, immigration authorities said she was not a priority for deportation and issued her a work permit.
“In 2017 things changed,” said Atkinson. “At Maribel’s first check-in this year with ICE, she was noticeably treated differently and sent home with a shackle on her ankle to monitor her movements.”
CLINIC and her pro bono attorney, Kathleen Kersh of the Dayton, Ohio-based Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, have filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen Maribel’s petition for asylum on the basis of the danger she would face from a drug cartel back in Mexico. It was initially rejected, although one of Maribel’s brothers, who fled Mexico at about the same time, was granted asylum on the basis of the same threats.
“The sheer lack of compassion and sense of human dignity in the way Maribel has been treated cry out for people of faith to demand change in the way our broken immigration system is operating,” Atkinson said. “The ripple effects of deporting this one woman would be dramatic. It risk making four U.S. citizens dependent upon the community or the government for support and splitting apart her family. For her children to have to go with her to Mexico would mean we are effectively deporting U.S. citizens to a country they have never even visited and where physical danger is a very real threat.”
Atkinson noted that cases such as Maribel’s are being reported around the country, with people who do not fit the administration’s stated priorities for deportation being taken into custody when they comply with check-in requirements.
“This is just one of many examples of the current skewed priorities for enforcement,” Atkinson said. “We need the immigration system fixed so that families like Maribel’s have ways to live in peace in the country that is their home.”
Atkinson called on people of faith and good will to join in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s plea to the Trump administration to release Maribel and allow her to stay where she is needed. In its April 6 statement, the archdiocese concluded:
“It is clear that the common good cannot be served at this stage by separating this wife and mother from her family. Our community gains nothing by being left with a single-parent household when such a responsible and well respected family can be kept together. We urge that our elected and administrative officials exercise mercy for Maribel.”
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Support Maribel on social media using the hashtag #FreeMaribel. Tag your members of Congress to ask them to encourage the Department of Homeland Security (@DHSgov) and ICE (@ICEgov) to do the right thing for this upstanding resident and her family.