Mother defying deportation holds out hope of staying with family

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CLINTONVILLE -- Immigration Customs and Enforcement says Edith Espinal must return to Mexico, but legal challenges have allowed her to remain.

The 40-year old Espinal is literally living day to day in a Church she now calls home.

"I don't want to be deported because I have my family here," she said.

Unable to live outside the walls of the Clintonville Mennonite Church for fear of being deported, she wants the government to understand how important it is for her to live on U.S. soil.

"I'm thinking I am not a bad person. I'm a good mother to my kids and I'm fighting for my kids. I would do anything for my family. They made me strong," she said.

It's the strength of this family that has allowed them to stay together this long.

But her daughter Stephanie says knowing her mother could be deported at any time is like living in constant fear.

"In the mornings when I would get ready for school and always give my mom a kiss goodbye and each time I go out I feel like I'll get that one call or that message saying that ICE came in here and took her. That's my fear," Stephanie Espinal said.

The decision to live in the church was a way to keep her out of the hands of Immigration officials who've said they won't enter a house of worship.

Her Husband Manuel says it's hard to see his wife so unhappy.

"It's very difficult to see what she's going through because she's the pillar of our family," he said.

For the past three months, Edith Espinal has lived inside this Mennonite Church in Clintonville, and the government is watching her electronically.

An ankle monitor vibrates at various times of the day telling Espinal to call into to immigration so they can keep tabs on her.

In the meantime, she and her legal team hope that her 21-year-old son, a U.S. citizen, can petition for his mother's legal residence.

Until then, her husband of 20-years, says there's no talk of deportation.

"We plan to fight to the end," he said.

For Edith Espinal, she's leaving the decision to a higher power.

"I have a strong faith in God that I will stay with my family," she says.

Espinal says she is seeking asylum because of violence in Mexico.