An illegal immigrant living under sanctuary in an Ohio church on Friday challenged the Democratic presidential candidates to meet with her next week when they debate near Columbus.
Edith Espinal has been living in the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017, The Washington Times reports, and she has lived illegally in the U.S. for more than 20 years after first coming from Mexico at age 16 with her father in 1995.
"All of the Democratic candidates have said they support immigrant families like mine," Espinal said in a video statement, the Times reports. "It is time to show that support.
"Come show your support for my family," she said. "I will be here waiting for you."
Twelve Democratic presidential candidates will debate Tuesday at Otterbein University in Westerville, about a 15-minute drive from the church, the Times reports.
Espinal, now with three children born in the U.S., fled to the church to avoid deportation by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE) after the agency denied her asylum request in 2015 and she exhausted her appeals.
In June, ICE fined her $497,777 for violating the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act — drawing national attention to her plight.
Espinal is originally from Michoacán, Mexico, which is on the State Department's "do not travel" because of its persistent high crime.
The 2020 Democratic field has expressed support for illegal immigrants, with many candidates endorsing health care for aliens during their first debate in Miami in June.
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