The Fairfield mother of four who brought Butler County into the center of the national immigration debate, was deported Wednesday back to her homeland of Mexico.
Maribel Trujillo Diaz was deported via a plane from Louisiana to Mexico City, lawyers for the woman who has lived illegally in the U.S. since 2002, said in a statement.
Since Trujillo Diaz, who only goes by Trujillo as a last name, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on April 5 outside her Fairfield home, her plight has become a rally for those who want modernized immigration policies across the country.
Her supporters contend she has not been convicted of crimes and should be allowed to stay. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati criticized the administration of President Donald Trump as misrepresenting its aim in deporting undocumented immigrants like Trujillo.
“Although the Trump Administration has said that it would focus on real criminals and dangers, its unrelenting insistence to remove Maribel suggests that no such priority exists,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.
“We are also deeply concerned that other such immigrant families and asylum seekers may meet the same fate as Maribel, and we urge the administration to now seriously reconsider its approach and handling of these situations in the future,” the statement continued.
Immigration officials and some elected officials, however, say her crime was being in the United States illegally.
Trujillo came to the U.S. illegally in 2002, pregnant with her oldest child. ICE officials first came into contact with Trujillo in 2007, when she was among dozens arrested during a federal immigration raid at the Koch Foods plant in Fairfield.
Seeking asylum because her family was targeted by drug cartels in her Mexican hometown, Trujillo lost her final appeal in mid-2014.
When immigration officials again moved to deport her in 2016, religious leaders’ pleas on her behalf garnered Trujillo a work permit meant to last until this July.
That permit was still valid when ICE arrested her in April.
A motion to reopen Trujillo’s asylum case remains pending at the Board of Immigration Appeals, and her lawyer, Kathleen Kersh, said she is “committed to continue representation of Maribel and her family until the case is resolved.”
Kersh said in the statement: “We are disappointed and outraged that ICE has chosen not to exercise prosecutorial discretion despite the thousands of calls and nationwide advocacy from community members, elected officials, and faith leaders.”
She added: “Maribel’s deportation shows that the Trump Administration is not focused on deporting criminals, but rather on separating peaceful mothers from their American children. It is horrific that American children will be the ones to pay the price for these heartless policies.”
Shortly after arriving in Mexico, Trujillo made a phone call to her husband, who remains in Ohio with their four children — all American citizens — between the ages of 3 and 14.
Supporters were disappointed that Trujillo was not accompanied by her 3-year-old daughter, Daniela, who suffers seizures. Her mother is trained to know when an episode is coming on, and how to deal with it, her lawyer said.
Trujillo’s husband, Gustavo Gonzalez, is relying on his family, which is emotionally close, for help with the children, “but it’s not the same thing, when your mother is many miles away,” said Father Mike Pucke of Hamilton’s St. Julie Billiart Church, where Trujillo read Scripture during Mass.
ICE officials on Wednesday did not respond to questions about how many people without criminal records, like Trujillo, have been deported in recent months. A spokeswoman for the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, has declined to comment on Trujillo’s case.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, wrote last week to the Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly.
The caucus and Kelly’s office have been exchanging phone calls this week, said caucus spokesman Carlos Paz.
Pucke said he recently told parishioners during a Spanish-speaking Mass why he had worked so hard to keep Trujillo in the country while others previously had been deported without as much effort by advocates.
“This was a confluence of two things,” he said. Trujillo “was a person who everybody would say should not be deported. And the other confluent was the political moment. So I said to them, ‘The reason we did this is to keep, hopefully, so many other Maribels from being deported.’”
“As a citizen, I am outraged that the government has said they will deport only ‘bad hombres’ and, in deporting Maribel Trujillo, have done the opposite,” Pucke said. “As Maribel’s pastor, I am heartbroken, having just spent time with her husband and three-year-old daughter.”
When Trujillo arrived in Mexico she immediately called her husband, Pucke said.
“She said that her faith in God remains strong despite her suffering,” he said.
This Sunday, the Catholic Church will be celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday.
“In Spanish the word mercy is “misericordia” — taking the heart to where there is misery,” Pucke said. “It is a time when we celebrate that great gift of God’s mercy. We ask that his mercy be poured out on us as sinners. This year I will ask God’s mercy on us as a nation.”
An ecumenical prayer service for the Feast of Divine Mercy is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at St. Julie Billiart, 224 Dayton St. in Hamilton.