Miriam Vargas Rodríguez

EN – Miriam Vargas Rodriguez came from Honduras to the US in 2005, and said,, “It was a decision because of safety and a terrible life. There is much violence in my country and no work. The gangs govern everything there. That is why someone would look to leave their country.” At a port of entry on the Texas border she legally declared her need for asylum and entered the US on a 6-month visa. She remained undocumented in Columbus, Ohio for 5 years. She had not received notice of her first court hearing and therefore was unable to appear before the immigration judge in Arlington, VA in February 2006. In 2013 an ICE agent appeared outside Miriam’s apartment where she was trying to enter with her terrified daughter (pregnant with her second daughter at the time). Miriam then filed a motion to reopen her proceedings with the immigration court, explaining that she never received notice of her hearing. However, in December 2013, an Immigration Judge in Cleveland denied the motion. After receiving the judge’s decision, Miriam filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Board dismissed Miriam’s appeal in April 2015.

With no other options, Miriam gratefully entered sanctuary with her two daughters at First English Lutheran Church on Columbus’s Near East side in July 2018. She filed a separate Motion to Reopen with the BIA. However, the Board again dismissed the appeal in February 2019 and Miriam remained in sanctuary at the church for another 2 years. Federal policy for deportation priorities shifted to undocumented, aggravated felons with a new administration in 2021. After an emotional meeting in February 2021 at the local ICE office Miriam was granted a Stay of Order of Deportation and an Order of Supervision. She was given permission to leave sanctuary with her family – her first taste of freedom in 2.5 years.

Miriam’s daughters endured the years of confinement with their mother, but as US born citizens, they were permitted to leave the church for school, doctor’s appointments, etc. Her younger daughter has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and Fragile X Syndrome which causes mild to severe intellectual disabilities. She has needed special medical and educational attention which Miriam has monitored but could not attend during her years of sanctuary. When asked what her life would be like if she returned to Honduras, Miriam replied “There would be constant fear and insecurity for me and my daughters. Also, there would be no work, lack of education for my daughters, lack of medical care especially for my younger daughter with her special needs.” She added that, “The only thing I am asking for is not to be separated from my daughters, from my children, from my family.” A deeply devoted mother, Miriam’s reasons for remaining in the US are entirely family-based as is true of most women in sanctuary.

Under her Order of Supervision Miriam is no longer a priority for deportation. She must check in at the local ICE office in person once a year. She has been granted a work visa and is working near her apartment. Currently, Miriam has no further avenues to pursue reopening of her case. Her path to citizenship remains uncertain and will require new federal legislation.

ES – Miriam llegó a Estados Unidos desde Honduras. Fue puesta en proceso de deportación en agosto de 2005. Miriam no recibió notificación de su primera audiencia judicial y, por lo tanto, no se presentó ante el juez de inmigración en Cleveland, Ohio. Luego se ordenó la expulsión de Miriam en ausencia (in absentia), en el 2009. Miriam presentó una moción para reabrir sus procedimientos ante el tribunal de inmigración, explicando que nunca recibió notificación de su audiencia. Sin embargo, en diciembre de 2013, el juez de inmigración rechazó la moción. Después de recibir la decisión del juez, Miriam presentó una apelación ante la Junta de Apelaciones de Inmigración (BIA, por sus siglas en inglés). La Junta desestimó la apelación de Miriam en abril de 2015. Sin otras opciones, Miriam ingresó a santuario en julio de 2018. Miriam presentó por separado una Moción para Reabrir Sua Sponte ante la BIA. Sin embargo, la Junta nuevamente desestimó la apelación en febrero de 2019. En este momento, Miriam no tiene más vías para buscar la reapertura de su caso.

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