Press release: Alirio, Hilda and Ivan denied deferred action

For immediate release: March 18, 2019

Sulma Franco,, 512-573-7683 (Spanish)
Rev.  Jim Rigby,, 512-484-9687 (English)

Hilda Ramirez and Alirio Gamez, asylum seekers taking sanctuary in Austin churches, denied deferred action, ordered to appear for deportation

AUSTIN, Tex. — Hilda Ramirez and Alirio Gamez, asylum seekers taking sanctuary in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, were notified this week that their requests for an extension to deferred action on their deportations were denied without a valid explanation as to why. Austin Sanctuary Network will hold  a conference today outside the First Unitarian Universalist Church to raise awareness about their situation.

Ramirez and Gamez, as well as Ramirez’s 12 year old son Ivan, were further instructed to appear at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field office in San Antonio on March 19, the day after their current temporary stay of deportation expires. Ramirez and Gamez believe if they attend this meeting, they will be apprehended for detention and deportation. Retaliations from ICE are becoming increasingly common; last October, Samuel Oliver-Bruno was detained and deported after appearing for his ICE check-in. Last month, ICE retaliated against Claudio Rojas, the protagonist of The Infiltrators, by detaining him during what was supposed to be normal ICE check-in.

Ramirez and Gamez are leaders of the Austin Sanctuary Network, a coalition of congregations and non-profit organizations that work in solidarity with immigrants and asylum seekers to resist deportations. Having been denied their respective applications for asylum, Ramirez and Gamez took sanctuary in the two Austin churches in 2017 and lived in sanctuary for more than a year.

US Representatives Lloyd Doggett and Joaquin Castro support Ramirez and Gamez, and contacted ICE field director Daniel Bible to ask him to consider deferred action. In October 2018, Ramirez and Gamez were determined not to be a priority for deportation, and were granted a temporary stay of deportation for five months to allow them to remain in the country. Their status when they were granted the temporary stay has not changed.

Ramirez is the mother of 12 year old Ivan, who has a pending visa case.

“If thousands of community members and elected officials determine that we are welcome in this community, why is ICE not listening to them and terrorizing us? They know we are not a priority for deportation, and granted us discretion and then without reason, they took it away,” Ramirez said. “ICE doesn’t think they have to listen to anybody, and that’s dangerous.  I am going to continue fighting because I have a community behind me and because my faith is bigger than any terror they can inflict on me.”

Gamez, who originally fled violence and threats to his life in El Salvador, is suffering from health conditions. While living in sanctuary, undocumented immigrants across the country have experienced severe mental, emotional and physical health consequences common among people in confinement. For Gamez, this includes developing diabetes while in sanctuary, an illness of which his family has no history. Ramirez and her son have experienced compounding trauma and mental health concerns.

Sulma Franco, an organizer with Grassroots Leadership, stated, “I admire the courage Alirio, Hilda, and Ivan have. They are teaching us they are stronger than we already thought. This battle is bigger than them, it’s also for all those in sanctuary. We have to fight for their freedom.”

# # #

Austin Sanctuary Network is a coalition of faith communities, immigrants and other community members and organizations in and around Austin that support immigrants fleeing violence or in danger of deportation. See or follow ASN on Twitter at @SanctuaryAustin or Facebook at

Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation, and criminalization are things of the past. Follow us @Grassroots_News.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno, living in sanctuary in North Carolina, has been arrested

Samuel Oliver-Bruno, who has been living in sanctuary in Durham, North Carolina for the last 11 months, was seized for deportation after leaving sanctuary to provide fingerprints for his petition for deferred action.

Dozens of supporters, including local faith leaders and Oliver-Bruno’s son, who is a US citizen, were arrested while blocking his arrest in protest, prayer and song.

Video courtesy the Raleigh News & Observer:

Anuncio de DOJ y DHS sobre nueva regla de asilo

A continuación se muestra una traducción del reciente anuncio conjunto del Departamento de Justicia de los EE. UU. Y el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los EE. UU.

Below is a translation of the recent joint announcement from the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Homeland Security.


  • DOJ es el Departamento de Justicia
  • DHS es el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional

Departamento de Justicia
Oficina de Asuntos Publicos

Jueves, 8 de noviembre, 2018

DOJ Y DHS Emiten Nueva Regla De Asilo

Aplica la autoridad del Presidente para suspender la entrada al asilo.

El Fiscal General Interino Matthew Whitaker y la Secretaria del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional Kirstjen Nielsen anunciaron hoy una Regla Final Provisional que declara que aquellos extranjeros que contravengan una suspensión presidencial o la limitación a la entrada a los Estados Unidos a través de la frontera sur con México emitida bajo la Sección 212 (f) o 215 (a) (1) de la Ley de Inmigración y Nacionalidad (INA) serán inelegibles para el asilo.

El Fiscal General Interino y la Secretaria emitieron la siguiente declaración conjunta:

“De acuerdo con nuestras leyes de inmigración, el Presidente tiene la amplia autoridad para suspender o restringir la entrada de extranjeros a los Estados Unidos si se determina que sea en el interés nacional hacerlo. La regla de hoy aplica este importante principio a los extranjeros que violan tal suspensión o restricción con respecto a la frontera sur impuesta por el Presidente al invocar una autoridad expresa provista por el Congreso para restringir la elegibilidad para el asilo. Nuestro sistema de asilo está abrumado con demasiadas solicitudes de asilo sin mérito de parte de extranjeros que imponen una carga tremenda sobre nuestros recursos, lo que nos impide poder otorgar rápidamente el asilo a quienes realmente lo merecen. Hoy estamos usando la autoridad que nos otorgó el Congreso para prohibir a los extranjeros que violen una suspensión presidencial de ingreso u otra restricción de elegibilidad de asilo “.

La Sección 212 (f) de la Inmigración y el INA establece que “[s]iempre que el Presidente encuentra que el ingreso de cualquier extranjero o de cualquier clase de extranjeros en los Estados Unidos sería perjudicial para los intereses de los Estados Unidos, puede ser proclamado y, por el período que considere necesario, suspender la entrada de todos los extranjeros o cualquier clase de extranjeros como inmigrantes o no inmigrantes, o imponer sobre la entrada de extranjeros cualquier restricción que considere apropiada“.

Además, la Sección 215 (a) de la INA establece que es “ilegal … que cualquier extranjero salga o entre o intente salir o ingresar a los Estados Unidos, excepto bajo tales reglas razonables, regulaciones y órdenes razonables, y sujeto a tales limitaciones y excepciones que el Presidente prescriba ”.

En la Sección 208 (d) (5) (B) de la INA, el Congreso especificó que el Fiscal General “puede proporcionar por reglamento otras condiciones o limitaciones sobre la consideración de una solicitud de asilo”.

La nueva regla de hoy se aplica a las prospectivas proclamaciones presidenciales, y no es retroactiva.

El asilo es una forma de alivio discrecional otorgada por el Poder Ejecutivo de manera discrecional a quienes huyen de la persecución por razón de su raza, religión, nacionalidad, pertenencia a un grupo social particular u opinión política. La regla no impide a dichos extranjeros ser elegibles para la suspensión de la expulsión bajó la INA o la protección de remoción bajo la Convención Contra la Tortura, y Otros Tratos o Penas Inhumanos o Degradantes.


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Thursday, November 8, 2018

DOJ and DHS Issue New Asylum Rule

Applies President’s authority to suspend entry to asylum

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today announced an Interim Final Rule declaring that those aliens who contravene a presidential suspension or limitation on entry into the United States through the southern border with Mexico issued under section 212(f) or 215(a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) will be rendered ineligible for asylum. The Acting Attorney General and the Secretary issued the following joint statement: “Consistent with our immigration laws, the President has the broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens into the United States if he determines it to be in the national interest to do so. Today’s rule applies this important principle to aliens who violate such a suspension or restriction regarding the southern border imposed by the President by invoking an express authority provided by Congress to restrict eligibility for asylum. Our asylum system is overwhelmed with too many meritless asylum claims from aliens who place a tremendous burden on our resources, preventing us from being able to expeditiously grant asylum to those who truly deserve it. Today, we are using the authority granted to us by Congress to bar aliens who violate a Presidential suspension of entry or other restriction from asylum eligibility.”

Section 212(f) of the Immigration and INA states that “[w]henever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

Further, Section 215(a) of the INA states that it is “unlawful…for any alien to depart from or enter or attempt to depart from or enter the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President may prescribe.”

In Section 208(d)(5)(B) of the INA, Congress specified that the Attorney General “may provide by regulation for any other conditions or limitations on the consideration of an application for asylum.”

Today’s new rule applies to prospective presidential proclamations, and is not retroactive.

Asylum is a discretionary form of relief granted by the Executive Branch on a discretionary basis to those fleeing persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The rule does not render such aliens ineligible for withholding of removal under the INA or protection from removal under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


Make a call for Hilda and Alirio!

Make a call for Hilda and Alirio! Rep. Joaquin Castro (202) 225-3236; Rep. Will Hurd (202) 225-4511.<br /> What to say when you call:<br /> I'm calling to ask the representative to use their congressional power to ask ICE for discretion on their cases. Hilda is now missing the fourth year of her young son's life because of living in sanctuary, while Alirio's health has deteriorated during this year in sanctuary. I am one of the hundreds of people asking the representative to intervene for Hilda and Alirio. They have taken great risks fighting for their lives and their families, please match their courage and do the right thing!

Make the call now!

Hilda, Alirio, and their supporters are in the offices of Rep. Castro and Rep. Hurd calling on them to do everything in their power to intercede with ICE to exercise discretion so that Hilda, Ivan, and Alirio can finally walk free.

We know that they have the power to make this happen. These three courageous individuals are fighting for their lives. Please call Rep. Castro and Rep. Hurd now!


Please join us as we rally to ask Congressman Castro to step in to help Alirio, Hilda and Ivan gain their freedom from the constant and imminent threat of deportation.

The address is: 727 E César E. Chávez Blvd #B-128, San Antonio, TX 78206

His office is inside the federal building and we are meeting outside at 11am.

Today, please help us make a call to help Alirio, Hilda and Ivan become free from sanctuary and deportation!

Accompanying Alirio to medical care

This morning Austin Sanctuary Network, community members and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin congregants accompanied Alirio for his 7th visit to the doctor in the last month. His health has been deteriorating since being in Sanctuary for over a year. His health is a major reason why needs to be free please sign and share this petition. Alirio needs to be free to fully recover and be healthy! Updates coming after the appointment.

Esta mañana, la Red Sanctuaria de Austin, miembros de la comunidad y miembros de la iglesia UU acompañaron a Alirio en su séptima visita al médico en el último mes. Su salud se ha estado deteriorando desde que ha estado en el Santuario por más de un año. Su salud es una de las principales razones por las cuales debe ser libre, por favor firme y comparta esta petición. Alirio necesita esta libre para recuperarse y ser saludable. Actualizaciones después de la cita.

First UU members ready to accompany Alirio to medical care
First UU members ready to accompany Alirio to medical care
Community members surround Alirio to accompany him safely to medical care
Community members surround Alirio to accompany him safely to medical care
Alirio enters the medical clinic
Alirio enters the medical clinic
Alirio with members of First UU and members of the community at the medical clinic
Alirio with members of First UU and members of the community at the medical clinic