This article by Tammy Alexander was originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Timbrel, Finding Sanctuary. The Spanish version is available at the bottom of this post.
Loving our neighbors: Sanctuary, dignity and safe spaces
Edith Espinal calls Columbus Mennonite Church home—in a very literal sense. She has not left the church building since October 2, 2017. She sleeps there, eats there and spends all of her days inside the church walls. If she leaves, Edith is at risk of being deported and separated from her family and from the community she has called home for more than a decade.
Edith is married with three children, two of whom are U.S. citizens. She had applied for asylum, citing threats of violence in Mexico. Gaining asylum can be a difficult legal process, given the challenge of proving the existence of threats and violence to a judge’s satisfaction. Her initial application and an appeal were denied and she was forced to buy a plane ticket to Mexico for October 10. Edith chose not to leave but instead to seek sanctuary—to live inside a church where immigration officers generally will not conduct enforcement operations. Continue reading