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March Marks The One Year Sanctuary Of Edith Espinal


Faith leaders and activists have been holding events this week to mark the one-year anniversary of Edith Espinal’s sanctuary at a church in Columbus to avoid deportation. 

As Mike Foley reports, the latest came Thursday in downtown Columbus.

More than 50 faith leaders, activists, and residents marched in downtown Columbus holding signs that read “We Stand with Edith & Let Edith Go Home.” Edith Espinal, a mother of three, had lived most of the last two decades in Columbus before taking sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church. Carrie Vereide is part of the Solidarity with Edith Espinal team.

“On Tuesday, Edith reached one year in sanctuary,” Vereide told the crowd. “Her son was hospitalized twice, and she wasn’t able to be there with him in the hospital. So it’s been a very difficult year for her and her family. So today we’re here to call on ICE and our elected officials to stand with Edith and let her return home to her family and live like all families should be able to live – together.”   

Helen Stewart represents the group Black Queer & Intersectional Columbus.  

“I want to remind people that sanctuary still is a limited geographical spot,” Stewart said. “It’s still house arrest, it’s still a form of jail. This can’t be the only resolution. This can’t be the final thing that we’re comfortable with. We need to push harder. I know we’re fighting a lot of things right now - attacks on our civil rights and LGBTQ equality, undocumented individuals and detention centers, and the list goes on. I know we are tired, but we really have to fight for our local communities right now.”

Part of that fight will involve putting more pressure on Ohio’s congressional delegation, which the rally participants say hasn’t done enough on this issue. The rally and march are part of a series of events this week that included a vigil with Espinal at Columbus Mennonite Church. She expressed gratitude to the people holding these events calling them the angels 

She expressed gratitude to the people holding these events on her behalf.

“The most important thing for my family is your time,” Espinal told the crowd at the vigil. “Thank you for your support. Thank you for your time. I know the message in my head. You are my angels. You are the angel for my family.”

According to estimates, there are more than 50 known cases of sanctuary around the country, including a handful in Ohio. Immigration officials continue to follow a 2011 memorandum regarding enforcement actions at sensitive locations, including schools, hospitals and places of worship. Under the policy, agents may still carry out enforcement in these locations but only if it involves national security and terrorism, or when there’s an imminent risk of violence or destruction of evidence in an ongoing criminal case. None of those apply to Espinal.  

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.
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