Minerva Cisneros Garcia has had a long struggle with our immigration system. Mineva came to this country nearly 20 years ago so that her oldest son, who is blind could receive the education and training that was not available in her home state of Guerrero, Mexico.
It appeared that Minerva’s immigration troubles were over in October after a Federal judge vacated her deportation order. With the order vacated, Minerva and her two youngest sons left the sanctuary of Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro and returned to her home in Winston.
Congregational UCC sheltered Minerva and her two young sons from I.C.E.’s clutches for nearly four months. By taking refuge in Congregational UCC, Minerva Ciscernos Garcia’s story gained prominence in the country’s immigration debate.
Minerva is part of a new sanctuary movement in North Carolina that echoes back to the work sanctuary churches did in the 1980s. N.C. churches are embracing the humanity of undocumented immigrants and welcoming them into their congregations. Churches are acting where local politicians like Winston-Salem Councilmember Dan Besse have provided mere rhetoric.
When Minerva left Congregational UCC in October she met with Juana Luz Tobar Ortega. Tobar Ortega, a Guatemalan immigrant, and grandmother remains inside St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro, where she has been since May. Salvadoran refuge, Rev. Jose Chicas also remains in a church in Durham.
Minerva, Juana and Jose are stuck in the immigration maze: an inhuman system that requires staggering amounts of time, money and a little luck to survive. Minerva has spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to attain a green card that our government shouldn’t hesitate to give to a loving mother of three with no criminal record.
When she thought her immigration troubles were over, Minerva received a letter from I.C.E. summing her to their regional office in Charlotte. Though her deportation order had been thrown out, her case had not been closed. So, the nightmare that Minerva and her supporters thought was over, continues. Anxiously Minerva and her supporters returned to Charlotte yesterday.
A press conference was held at noon before Minerva went in to speak with I.C.E. officials. At 12:20 Minerva and her attorney went into I.C.E.’s office. At approximately 12:40 Minerva’s supporters were told that they were loitering, so they began circling I.C.E.’s parking lot while singing civil rights’ songs.
Later that afternoon, Minerva and her attorney came out of the front of I.C.E.’s office and spoke to media. Minerva showed the media the unpleasant (and unreasonable) gift that I.C.E. gave her-an ankle bracelet to monitor her movements.
Minerva will have to check back with officials monitoring her every two months. No court date has been set. But her case will go before an immigration judge in the coming months. That judge will decide whether or not Minerva can stay legally in this country, with her family.
Our community is a better place with Minvera here. Minerva is a kind person, who continues to only want the best for her family.
Craig Schaub, pastor at Parkway United Church of Christ said that people of various backgrounds have told him that “this doesn’t make sense, this isn’t right.” Why are they deporting Minerva?
Indeed, I.C.E.’s zeal to deport Minerva and thousands like Minerva is unjust. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in this country are not threat to anyone. They are good, hard-working people who make our country a better, more interesting place. They are here because of the U. S.’s countless regime changes, wars and unjust trade agreements.
Our shameless politicians in Washington are to blame for an immigration system that criminalizes people who need to cross an imaginary line to provide a better future for their children.
Minerva was forced to come to this country without papers. If she had chosen the “legal” route to emigrate to this county, she might still be waiting and her blind son would have very likely, grown up without the education and training that allow him to live a normal life today, without his vision.