Detroit family lives in church amid immigration controversy

Ded Rranxburgaj has lived in the United States for 17 years, and repeatedly been denied citizenship.

Central United Methodist Church in Detroit. Photo by: Central United Methodist Church in Detroit

The debate over immigration continues as Democrats and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives struggle to reach an agreement over protection of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, the New York Times reports.   President Donald Trump ordered the cancelation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act in September 2017, posted as a press release on the Department of Justice website.
“We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,”   Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the press release.   “That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.”
In response to DACA’s removal, Central United Methodist Church in Detroit declared itself a sanctuary.   They are currently providing housing for an Albanian immigrant facing deportation, Ded Rranxburgaj.   The Rev. Dr. Jill Hardt Zundel said her church “believes in protecting families and keeping them safe from deportation.”
“They’ve been here 17 years,”   Zundel said.   “Their youngest son is a citizen here, and they’ve been working and paying taxes.   They haven’t done any crimes.   They actually had a humanitarian stay, so that Ded could stay in the country to take care of his wife, who has [multiple sclerosis].   Three months ago, something changed, and he hasn’t gotten an answer as to why.
“If he was split up from his family, then his oldest son, who is a DACA recipient, would have to drop out of college to take care of his mom.”
Zundel said the church “has always been involved in peace and justice issues,”   and they work with Michigan United, an organization that is “fighting for the dignity and potential of every person,”   according to their website.
“The United Methodist Church believes in protecting families and keeping them safe from deportation,”   Zundel said.

Related story: Immigrant dad facing deportation who cares for ill wife to take refuge in Detroit church

Zundel said she believes “a lot of people don’t understand how difficult it really is to become a citizen here.”
“People think they can just go in to immigration and fill out a form,”   Zundel said.   “There’s a lot of financial issues that people aren’t aware of.   There’s a lot of fees that you have to pay.   You also have to have a lawyer, and a sponsor family.   If there’s a way that [the government] could streamline it, and make it easier for immigrants who are coming in to the country to understand.   It shouldn’t just be the richest of the rich coming in, it should be equal across the board.”
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said at the Leadership Press Conference Feb. 6 that any immigration bill passed must be legislation “that the president supports.”
 “Quite literally the safety of our service members and the security of our country is at stake,”   Ryan said at the conference.
Zersha Dorsey, a supervisory immigration services officer at the Detroit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, said there are “a lot of sides” to immigration.
“There are probably more sides to it than I even knew existed,”   Dorsey said.   “I’m interested in the work because I understand that immigration is a huge topic, and it is a vast background of never-ending issues.   There’s a lot of sides to it that are great, there are a lot of sides of it that I have yet to still learn about.”
Dorsey said the best part of her job was “serving the people,”   while the worst was “not having enough hours in the day to answer all kinds of inquiries.”
“One thing that I wish all people understood about what I do is that everyday is not going to be a perfect day,”   Dorsey said.   “We have good days and we have bad days. Some days are more good than others. We’re not always able to give applicants the benefits that they’re looking for.”

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