At 9:30 this morning eight of us gathered in a circle in the church foyer and joined hands. We prayed for a successful morning. We prayed for strength and courage and peace. Then seven of us headed out the door and drove to the ICE offices in LeVeque Tower downtown. Edith stayed behind.
There were about 50 of us total on the sidewalk outside the
building at Broad and Front, many holding signs. We were there to support the morning’s
mission: to make an official application to ICE for a stay of removal for
Edith, giving her a sanctioned reprieve from sanctuary, enabling her to go home
to her family’s apartment with the threat of deportation temporarily lifted.
Asking elected officials to file a stay of removal on Edith’s
behalf has been the current push that Edith, her attorney, and support team have
been working on. Morgan Harper, running
for Ohio’s 3rd congressional district (currently held by Joyce
Beatty) agreed to accompany Edith’s daughter Stephanie this morning to submit
Building security was ready for us. Only three people were allowed past the
entryway toward the elevators inside the building. The rest of us waited outside. It was a surprisingly long wait. Many of us had expected a brief exchange with
the front desk at the ICE office and our small delegation to return within a
matter of minutes.
When they did return– Stephanie, Morgan Harper, and a national organizer named Mohammad – THIS is what they had to say.
In short, they managed to convince an ICE official to accept
the application for the stay of removal, along with the $155 associated
fee. This is highly unusual due to ICE’s
pattern of requiring the person needing the stay to be there in person to file. For obvious reasons, this makes it (intentionally)
impossible for Edith and others who fear detainment and deportation.
But today was a good day, a small success. Even though we are expecting it to be
rejected within the next week, the application was officially accepted, and
that opens up some new possibilities for pushing and pulling different levers
in the system, amplifying the call for elected officials to lobby ICE to
support the stay.
As we approach two years of sanctuary, I am repeatedly encouraged and emboldened by the kind of witness all this puts out into our world. It is easy to feel powerless, but we do have moral power. We have people power, and we have a wide community of folks who have decided to live, in the present, the kind of world they wish to see come about. I think Jesus had a thing or two to say about that.
Let’s continue to pray with our hearts, our mouths, our
feet, our conversations, our actions.
Courage. Strength. Peace with justice.