Daughter of Salvadoran woman seeking refuge in Evanston will not be immediately deported


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Lake Street Church, 607 Lake St. Lake Street Church, led by Woolf, raised $6000 to help black families with rent and groceries.

Julia Esparza, Copy Chief

A Salvadoran 21-year-old who was separated from her family members before they found refuge in an Evanston church will be able to remain in the U.S. until her case is reviewed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Yesica, who has been held in a Houston detention center for more than a year after attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, was set to be deported Friday. But on Thursday, the Board of Immigration Appeals approved her request for stay.

The decision comes after her family, local community members and Illinois politicians put pressure on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office director in Houston.

“I’m relieved that we have more time to work on my daughter’s case,” her mother Ana told The Daily in Spanish. The Daily omitted the family members’ last name for safety reasons.

In 2015, Ana, Yesica and Yesica’s two younger brothers arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum following months of threats from MS-13 gang members in their home country of El Salvador. Because Yesica was already an adult at the time, she was taken into custody by ICE.

For roughly the past two years, Ana and her sons have been living in Evanston under an order of supervision at Lake Street Church, a sanctuary space at 607 Lake St. However, Ana said Yesica was sent back to El Salvador, where she faced threats and was sexually assaulted by a family member, causing her to attempt to enter the U.S. a second time and be once again detained.

The Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision to let Yesica remain in detention saved her life, said Shanti Elliott, Lake Street Church’s immigration justice leader. Yesica would have faced more threats from local gang members had she returned to El Salvador.

Elliott said it is unclear how long the family and its supporters will have to wait until Yesica’s case is heard by the appeals court.

“It’s hard for us to hope for the positive when all the responses until now have been negative,” she said.

Ana said she still hopes U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will step in and advocate for her daughter’s release.

“I wish she could return to El Salvador, but it’s too dangerous for her in our country,” Ana said. “Really, I just want her to have the opportunity to enter (America) and be able to fight her case outside (of the detention center).”

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