After nearly a year in sanctuary, immigrant family gets hearing on case in federal court
Friends and supporters followed Flora, Eric and Lorenc Rranxburgaj as they walked with community leaders and government advocates from the church where the family has taken sanctuary to the federal courthouse that could free them. Father and husband, Ded Rranxburgaj, moved with his family to Central United Methodist church (CUMC) in January to avoid deportation so he could continue to care for Flora who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.
On Tuesday, Rranxburgaj had a hearing in district court before Judge Denise Page Hood. Rranxburgaj's attorney, George Mann argued that ICE has not done its job adjudicating the petition to stop the deportation so he can continue to care for his wife. Instead of judging the petition, ICE waited until Rranxburgaj took sanctuary a week before his deportation, called him a fugitive, and denied the petition based on that label and never judged the case based on its merit.
“Ded is a man who wants nothing more than to take care of his wife. He has taken care of her and their two sons day in and day out for the last 11 years since she has been ill,” said former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El Sayed. “He is the sort of husband and father that I try to be and that I would hope to be if ever my wife were to get sick. That commitment to family and values is as American as it gets yet ICE wants to deport him.”
The procession moved solemnly through the streets of downtown Detroit until it reached the Theodore Levin Federal courthouse. As participants gathered outside, Detroit United Methodist Pastor Rev. Jill Hardt-Zundel gave an invocation.
“God of justice and mercy, we come before you begging you to send your Holy Spirit into the courtroom. Break the judge’s heart with the things that break your heart. Ded needs your justice. Flora needs your mercy. Eric and Lorenc need their father. We have done all we can do. We have written letters, we have walked from Detroit to Lansing. And now we have come to court. Bless our efforts."
Michigan State Representative Stephanie Chang was among those gathered in support.
"Our neighbors and friends, the Rranxburgaj Family and Central United Methodist Church are going up against two powerful federal institutions in court,” she said. “I am glad Judge Denise Page Hood agreed to take up this case since we need to keep ICE in check when they are tearing families apart across our nation. I hope we see ICE make the right decision for this family soon.”