Activism intensifies for mother facing imminent deportation

Activism intensifies for mother facing imminent deportation
June 29
03:00 2017

With time running out for Minerva Garcia, a local mother who is facing deportation, the effort to let her stay in the country has intensified.

Activists, clergy and elected officials have spoken out for Garcia, a Mexico native who’s lived in the city since 2000. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been granting her a routine stay from removal for years. That changed recently when she was informed she needed to leave the country by the end of June.

Garcia lives with her three sons. Her oldest son, Eduardo, 21, is blind and is protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Her youngest sons, Mateo, 3, and Antonio, 6, are American citizens by birth.

Supporters say that Garcia should be allowed to stay because she has no criminal record. ICE had previously prioritized criminals and security threats for deportation, but the Trump administration has expanded that focus. 

Six of Garcia’s supporters spoke before the City Council during its meeting last Monday, urging them to speak out for her. City Council Member Dan Besse encouraged his colleagues to sign a petition in support of Garcia.

After the meeting, Besse said that there are many reasons for ICE to use discretion in this case, such as her being a longtime contributing member of the community with young children who are U.S. citizens.

“Her case is probably a text book example of the kind of immigrant who was not being targeted for deportation under the Obama administration’s policies and, because of the changes under the current president, is vulnerable to almost random selection for deportation,” said Besse.

Other elected officials who’ve shown public support for Garcia include N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes Jr., N.C. Sen. Paul Lowe Jr. and County Commissioner Fleming El-Amin.

Last Tuesday, local clergy held a press conference at Emmanuel Baptist Church asking for Garcia to be allowed to stay.

“Minerva is our neighbor. This family is part of our family. When they are at risk of being broken apart, our community is broken as well,” said Rev. Craig Schaub of Parkway United Church of Christ.

The event included representatives from the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, Imam Khalid Griggs of Community Mosque, Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn of Temple Emmanuel, Rev. Kelly Carpenter of Green Street United Methodist Church and many others.

More than 12,500 people have signed a petition asking for Garcia to stay.

Behind the scenes, activists with the Winston-Salem Sanctuary City Coalition have been contacting those signers, urging them to call Sens. Richard Burr and Thom TIllis and contact ICE officials about Garcia’s situation.

Samantha Kiley, an activist with the Winston-Salem Sanctuary City Coalition, said the talks with staff at Burr’s and Tillis’ offices have gone well, and she hoped the senators will request a stay for Garcia. There was a protest planned in front of Burr’s Winston-Salem office last week, but it was postposed as activists felt ongoing conversations and public activism would be more productive.

An urgent Facebook event was posted this week urging supporters to call or email ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher on Tuesday and Wednesday asking for a stay for Garcia. ICE is expecting Garcia to take a bus back to Mexico on Wednesday, which is after the Chronicle’s press time. Garcia has been working with a lawyer to try to win a stay and has previously said she didn’t plan to leave the country or her family.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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