Winston-Salem woman fighting deportation will not be detained

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Winston-Salem woman who went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Charlotte Thursday afternoon learned she will not be deported -- at least, not yet.

Minerva Garcia took sanctuary at a Greensboro church in June to avoid deportation. In October, she was able to go home after a judge ruled that her deportation order was vacated.

This month, ICE ordered Garcia to their office Charlotte, but she had no idea why.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen in there. I’m scared," Garcia told FOX8 minutes before walking into the ICE office Thursday.

Garcia came to the United States 18 years ago on a Visa. She says she stayed illegally so her blind son, Eduardo, could have more opportunities. Eduardo is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Her two youngest sons were born in the United States.

Dozens of people showed up to support Garcia as she walked through the ICE doors. They erupted into cheers an hour later, when she emerged with her two youngest sons.

Inside the building, Garcia began the paperwork hat will continue her immigration status back into court.

FOX8 talked to a Department of Homeland Security official who explained what will happened next.

When a federal judge vacated Garcia's deportation order, that did not grant her any kind of legal status. She's still in the United States illegally, which is why ICE ordered her to the Charlotte office Thursday.

The DHS representative said in some cases, ICE agents do arrest immigrants in situations like Garcia's. He said they weight questions like if the person is a flight risk or a threat to public safety.

Garcia has no criminal record.

ICE agents released her, on the condition that she wear an ankle monitor. She'll need to check in with officials every two months until her day in court.

"The ankle monitor is a disappointment and an unnecessary restraint," said Helen Parsonage, Garcia's lawyer.

Parsonage has already helped Garcia apply for a Green Card while they wait for her court date.

Garcia wants to stay in the United States for the same reason she came here 18 years ago, to give her children better opportunities.

“Search your heart. Would you want your mother, your sister, your wife, your child, your friend treated in this manner? Would you want anyone in your family to have to endure what these families are going through?” asked Rev. Julie Peeples.

Her church, the Congregational United Church of Christ, granted Garcia and her sons sanctuary this summer.

Thursday did not have the ideal outcome for the Garcia family, but they say it's still a reason to celebrate.

“The fight is not over," Parsonage said.

Garcia's lawyer asked for her hearing to be moved to Charlotte from Texas, where it was originally set to be held. Because of the move, she does not yet have a court date set.

DHS officials say when an immigrant, such as Garcia, is not in custody, it can take several months to more than a year to get before of judge, because of backlogs in immigration court.