Coronavirus Fears in Sanctuary: Grant Miriam Vargas a Stay
For delivery to: Ohio Gov. DeWine, Sen. Brown and Sen. Portman:
Created by Katlynn McFarland
Categorized as Deportation
I write to ask for your urgent intervention on behalf of Miriam Vargas, an immigrant living in Sanctuary at the First English Lutheran church in Columbus, Ohio. Miriam is now requesting an emergency Stay of Removal from ICE, so that she can prepare for this pandemic like the rest of us, and without the constant looming threat of deportation.
For the past two-weeks Miriam has been suffering from flu-like symptoms -- severe cough that prevents her from sleeping at night, severe and constant headaches, congestion, muscle aches and feelings of fatigue. If Miriam was not confined to a church, she would follow the guidelines of federal and local health officials that are telling us to first shelter in place and seek immediate medical treatment if we develop certain symptoms. Miriam has now developed several symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.
It is incomprehensible to force a human being to live confined to a church during a deadly pandemic. It is even more appalling that someone is being forced by her circumstances to ignore health experts’ guidelines and forego medical care that can save her life because leaving the church could lead to her immediate deportation and potential death in Honduras.
I am pleading with your office to help us bring attention to this issue with ICE. Miriam’s situation is all too critical given the fact her Pastor fell sick around the same time and has been told by medical experts to assume she has COVID-19. Miriam’s Pastor is awaiting further testing, including a chest x-ray. However, given the Pastor’s recent in person interaction with Miriam and Miriam’s own symptoms we fear the Worst. We feel especially powerless because we cannot do anything to protect Miriam and her family.
Miriam’s biggest concern right now is the health and well-being of her youngest daughter, Elsa, who has Autism and Fragile X Syndrome. Elsa’s serious underlying medical conditions put her at higher risk of contracting the virus. Elsa’s condition, coupled with Miriam’s own health condition and alarming symptoms is really worrisome for our entire community and congregation.
I beg you to please help with this situation. ICE enforcement at our churches and hospitals should be the last thing someone should be concerned about during this global health crisis.