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After 3 Years in Sanctuary, Edith Espinal is Free to Return Home to Her Family


February 18, 2021


Michelle Nealy, mnealy@faithinpubliclife.org, (202) 735-7123

Dan Clark, dclark@faithinpubliclife.org, (614) 648-3663

Austin Schuler, aschuler@faithinpubliclife.org, (540) 280-3393

After 3 Years in Sanctuary, Edith Espinal is Free to Return Home to Her Family

Columbus, OH On Thursday, February 18th, Edith Espinal was accompanied by her attorney, Lizbeth Mateo, herself undocumented, and more than two dozen supporters as she met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at their field office in Westerville, OH. Edith Espinal is now under an order of supervision and is no longer a priority for deportation. She will leave sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church, where she has lived since October 2017 to avoid deportation, and return to life at home with her family on Columbus’ West Side. 

Elizabeth Brown, President Pro Tempore, Columbus City Council

“Keeping families like Edith’s together makes our entire community stronger. Edith is a long-time and welcomed resident of Columbus, and until we see comprehensive federal reform to fix our broken immigration system, it is imperative that we exercise our values as a nation through common sense steps that allow her to remain with her family.”

Emmanuel Remy, Columbus City Council

“My elation for Edith’s good news today is boundless. After more than 3 years in sanctuary, she is going home to her family without the threat of deportation. It was an honor to stand next to her through this process and to finally see a more favorable outcome for Edith and her family. There is more work to do and I look forward to staying involved with Edith’s journey.”

Rev. Joel Miller, Columbus Mennonite Church

“Today is an answer to months and years of prayer. After 40 months of living in sanctuary Edith is free to go about her life and be with her family. Her patience and persistence has been a model for all of us. With Lent just beginning, a season when Christians mark 40 days leading up to Easter, we are celebrating resurrection a little early this year. We as a congregation and community are overjoyed for Edith and her family.” 

Morgan Harper, Columbus Stand Up!

“For years our community at the grassroots-level has fought the powers-that-be to do what is right for one of our own. Edith —who I first met nearly 2 years ago—is a fighter, and I am so happy that her resolve and this movement paid off and allowed her to reunite safely with her family.”

Rev. Sally Padgett, First English Lutheran Church

“This is fantastic news! We are excited for Edith and her team who have worked so hard for this day! We are also now so full of hope for Miriam Vargas and her family! Thanks to the Biden administration for opening up this pathway for those who live in sanctuary to go home.  We still have work to do until they become citizens, but this is a good day and this is truly good news!”


Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, we are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level. Our network of 50,000 leaders engage in bold moral action that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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