CHICAGO — U.S. immigration officials have told a pregnant Mexican woman who had taken sanctuary inside a Chicago church that she can stay in the United States until after the baby is born.
Adilene Marquina had been told by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that she could be deported this week. But the Chicago Tribune says she was told on Thursday she will not have to leave immediately and should report to ICE on Oct. 23.
Marquina was seeking sanctuary inside a Faith, Life and Hope Mission church at 2940 W. 63rd Street on Thursday after a judge denied her claim for political asylum. At one point, she was wearing a Department of Homeland Security GPS bracelet on her ankle.
Marquina said doctors told her she has a high-risk pregnancy, and that traveling could put the life of her unborn child in jeopardy. The baby is due in late July. If she was to be deported, Marquina said she fears she’ll be separated from her boys, two of whom are U.S.-born.
“I feel like if I don’t present myself they’ll come to take me away,” Marquina told reporters.
Marquina said she waited four years for a decision from an immigration judge on whether or not she could stay in the U.S. After claim of political asylum was denied, she had until the end of Thursday to return to Mexico.
Speaking in Spanish, her 15-year-old son Jesus Hernandez said simply: "We need her."
“Solely, I’m asking immigration not to take her away,” he said. “She’s not a delinquent. She only came here to work and help us move forward.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been performing raids around the country, enforcing the nation’s tough stance on illegal immigration following President Trump’s pledge to take on the issue.
But for the most part, the agency chooses not to arrest illegal immigrants in a church or place of worship. Which is why Marquina sought refuge in the church on the same day she was supposed to surrender to ICE for deportation.
"Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges," ICE spokesperson Nicole Alberico said in a statement
Marquina will remain at the Chicago Lawn church, but there is concern that she may be taken into custody.
“We don’t want the Department of Homeland Security to come into our sanctuary, and we’re not going to take her to 101 Congress Parkway,” Father Jose Landaverde said, referring to the location where immigration courts are found.
In 2015, Marquina crossed the border asking for political asylum because she could no longer afford to pay extortion payments to a drug cartel in Mexico in order to keep her business open, according to an interview with WBEZ Radio. After her ex-partner's finger was cut off by the cartel, she fled to Chicago.