AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the last four years, Hilda Ramirez and her now 14-year-old son Ivan have been seeking sanctuary inside one north Austin church.
“It’s been very difficult having to live every day locked up,” Ramirez said. “Ivan’s never been able to have a normal childhood.”
Ramirez and her son first arrived in the United States from Guatemala in late 2014. At the time, Barack Obama was president. The mother-of-one sought asylum but was denied. Ramirez said her primary language is Mam, and she had trouble communicating in Spanish at her hearing.
“I did not understand any of the questions (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) asked me,” she said. “They didn’t even offer me a translator who could speak my native language.”
Thanks to the Austin Sanctuary Network, she ended up at a Presbyterian church in north Austin.
“When Donald Trump became president, it got hard to live through the threats from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department,” she explained.
With Joe Biden being named president-elect, now, Ramirez is hopeful.
“I would ask him to remove my deportation order and let me be free with my son,” she said.
Those with the Austin Sanctuary Network said they’re ready to work and help the family win her freedom.
“It’s time for the Democrats to fulfill their promises and their debt to immigrants all over the country,” Solveij Rosa Praxis, a volunteer with the nonprofit said.
“Just because Biden won, it does not mean we will sit back and relax, the fight is not over,” added Ramirez.
Ramirez’s son, Ivan, now has a child’s visa, so while he is protected, for now, Ramirez is not. The Austin Sanctuary Network is a collective of around 30 churches across the area. At present, there are only three people seeking sanctuary in Austin including Hilda and Ivan.