Immigrant Mother Facing Deportation Takes Sanctuary in Columbus Church


September 5, 2017


Dan Clark, 648-3663

Michelle Nealy, (202) 735-7123

Immigrant Mother Facing Deportation Takes Sanctuary in Columbus Church

Edith Espinal will be the first person to take sanctuary in a Columbus church this year

Columbus, Ohio — On Tuesday, September 5th, a prominent and diverse group of Columbus community and faith leaders gathered as Edith Espinal, a Columbus resident and mother of three, entered sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church to avoid deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Pastor Joel Miller, Columbus Mennonite Church:

“‘Love thy neighbor’ is one of the most basic teachings of any faith or moral philosophy. Worship of God cannot be separated from how we treat the children of God. Today we are welcoming Edith Espinal into our place of worship. Edith is a child of God. Edith is a neighbor. Edith is a mother. We as a congregation have heard Edith’s story and are compelled to offer our church building as a place of safety and support where she can stay united with her three children and her husband in this city that has become her home.”

Edith Espinal, Mother in Sanctuary to Avoid Deportation:

“I took sanctuary because of a deportation. I don’t want to leave my children behind. I don’t want to to leave this country. I’ve been in Columbus more than 10 years. My daughter, Stephanie, was born here. I’m fighting to keep my family united.” 

Stephanie Gonzales Espinal, Daughter of Edith Espinal:

“I want to support my mom. I don’t want her to leave us at all. Deportation doesn’t just affect my mom, it hurts the whole family. It breaks us. And it’s not just us -- families are being separated every day. My mom means everything to me.” 

Ruben Castilla Herrera, Central Ohio Worker Center:

“Today, with God as our witness, with our community and faith leaders gathered as our witness, today Columbus truly becomes a sanctuary city. We need policy and legislation, but ultimately sanctuary comes from the people. Today we witness that.”

Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, The Little Minyan Kehilla:

“For Jews the world over, this is the season of t’shuvah. Often mistranslated as ‘repentance,’ this Hebrew word has, at its root, a physical action that leads us psychologically, emotionally, and morally. It means ‘turning.’ We are standing at a place in history that will most certainly judge us harshly if we do not turn. We can no longer rest in our rhetoric; we must rise with our bodies, we must stand with our values, and we must pray with our feet, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said when he marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” 

Rev. Dan Clark, Faith in Public Life:

“America will be great again when Edith Espinal and others like her are welcomed to our communities with open arms, just as the people of Columbus Mennonite Church have done. When we stand with and for everyone in our community, including our immigrant neighbors, and against policies that tear their families apart, then we will be the kind of community and nation our shared values call us to be.”



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