Thursday was a long day for Minerva Cisneros, a Mexican mother of two in Winston-Salem. Minerva and her supporters in the Sanctuary City Coalition Winston-Salem spent the day in Charlotte, meeting with officials at Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE has given Minerva until June 30 to return to her native Mexico.
After returning from Charlotte, over a dozen Sanctuary City activists squeezed into Minerva’s small, but warmly decorated modular home on the outskirts of South Winston to discuss what to do next. With just over 30 days before her deportation order takes effect, there’s no time to waste.
Minerva’s story is one that has become commonplace since Trump took office and ramped up deportations of non-criminals. Minerva isn’t a “bad hombre.” Her only crime is coming to this country without papers. She’s a caring mother, who came to this country 17 years ago so that her oldest son, who is blind could get a good education.
Her home state of Guerrero, Mexico does not have specialized education for the blind. (Guerrero is a hotbed of drug-related violence, not the kind of place a mother without a criminal record should be exiled to.)
Her oldest son is now an adult. He’s a kind, soft-spoken young man, with a talent for singing, but he still relies on his mom for day-to-day assistance. Minerva’s is afraid that she will be separated from her son and the rest of her family. If deported, Minerva would have to wait at least 10 years to re-enter the U.S.
Minerva told members of the Sanctuary City Coalition that she has spent a small fortune fighting her deportation over the years. Yet her legal options have been exhausted. At this point, Minerva will need a miracle to stay here in Winston where she has worked, bought a home and paid taxes.
The court of public opinion is Minerva’s last option. There is a chance that with enough letters, likes and shares ICE will yield to public pressure and rescind its deportation order. But this too is an uphill battle. But it’s a battle that Minerva’s supporters are willing to sacrifice their time and energy for.
Any objective observer should be moved by Minerva’s story. They should be angered by a cruel immigration system that harshly punishes undocumented immigrants for merely doing what our forefathers did generations ago. It shouldn’t be a crime to want a better life for your children. A broken immigration system (one that forces immigrants to break the law) shouldn’t be breaking up families.
Minerva Cisneros and Latino immigrants like her have become an important part of Winston over the last 10-20 years. Winston is now 15% Latino — the largest percentage in any major city in the state. Without Latinos, South Winston would be filled with vacant houses and storefronts, eroding the city’s tax base. We could also be less diverse and more boring without the cultural contributions of Latinos.
Even though the Winston-Salem City Council failed to act in support of undocumented immigrants last month, ordinary folks in Winston can make a difference. Just a few minutes, each day supporting Minerva Cisneros’ efforts to stay in Winston with her family can help. Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you object to Minerva’s deportation.