Ivan Ramirez, a 13-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker, says he can’t remember a time in his life when he felt free. Now that the federal government intends to fine his mother more than $300,000, he worries that whatever semblance of safety they have in sanctuary is being threatened.
Ivan and his mother Hilda Ramirez came to the United States fleeing familial violence in 2014. Since then, they have been “under attack” by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the elder Ramirez said. They were detained together for almost a year after first arriving in the United States. Since their release from detention, they have been targeted for deportation. Because of ups and downs in their immigration cases, they have been forced to take sanctuary twice in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. On July 4, soon after receiving a letter from ICE informing her of a $303,620 fine, Ramirez told Rewire.News she sees these financial penalties as part of a larger pattern of attacks against immigrants in sanctuary.