Bill to Protect Family
July 21, 2018
A Mexican mother and her four children have been living in a North Philadelphia Episcopal church for several months. They sought sanctuary after being ordered to be deported in September 2016. Since December, the family has been sheltering in the Church of the Advocate. Now a bill to grant them permanent residency has been introduced by U.S. Representative Bob Brady of Philadelphia.
The mother fled Mexico with her children in August 2015 after gangsters murdered her brother and two nephews. The relatives were working as taxi drivers and were killed when they were unable to pay the extortion fees demanded of them. When the same people threatened and assaulted her, she left and sought asylum in the United States. The woman says that if she and her family are deported and must go back, they could suffer the same fate as her relatives.
In a statement, Senator Brady said he would not be able to live with himself if the family was sent back and came to harm, only because “we couldn’t find it in our hearts to offer the opportunity to live and work free of fear in the U.S.”
Private Bills are Tough to Pass
It will be an uphill battle to pass the bill, because it is what is known as a “private bill,” or one introduced on behalf of a person, group of people, or corporation. As a next step, Brady plans to gather at least 200 signatures from colleagues on the bill, in order to demonstrate to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that other members of Congress support the family.
The family also has the backing of many community, immigration, and education groups. Some of these supporters have lobbied Senator Bob Casey for a similar bill in the Senate. However, through his spokesperson, Casey said he had concerns regarding the fairness of private bills. Casey was afraid they can possibly lead to an uneven application of the law.
Philadelphia as a Sanctuary City
Despite pressure tactics from the Trump administration and ICE, Philadelphia continues to offer sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation. The wife of one such immigrant expressed her support for the Mexican family who is the focus of Rep. Brady’s private bill. Her husband spent a year living in the Arch Street United Methodist Church before being granted “deferred action.” He awaits approval of a U visa. This visa is only for victims of serious crimes who are willing to assist the government in prosecuting the perpetrators. His wife’s message to the family in the Church of the Advocate is “keep fighting.”
In June, Philadelphia City council members passed a resolution, calling on the Department of Homeland Security to reopen the family’s case for asylum, following an impassioned plea from one of the four children. Further, the resolution urges Congress to provide relief for the mother.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Fight for the Rights of Immigrant Families
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