Court remands Maribel Trujillo deportation case
Woman’s plight that made national news reconsidered
By Walt Schaefer
A January ruling by the United States Sixth District Court of Appeals remanded the deportation case of Fairfield resident Maribel Trujillo Diaz back to the Cleveland-based Bureau of Immigration Appeals for a new hearing.
Tony Stieritz, director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Catholic Social Action Office, said a date for a new hearing has not yet been set.
Stieritz said the appeal was filed by Trujillo Diaz’s attorneys prior to her deportation. “That case was pending since she has been deported.” The U.S. District Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, “ruled on it and basically said — in pretty stern language — that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals had abused its discretion and aired in its judgment in not reviewing Maribel’s updated asylum plea.”
The Bureau of Immigration Appeals, under the U.S. Justice Department, “reviewed her asylum plea and initially turned it down and refused to look at it again after Maribel’s brother had been kidnapped” by a Mexican drug cartel, Stieritz said. “So, she had new evidence to submit that basically says she has a legitimate asylum concern here, and that she should not be deported.”
“This is good news, but far from a victory for this mother and her family who have suffered so much,” said Father Mike Pucke, former pastor at St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton where Trujillo Diaz was a parishioner and an advocate for her return. Stieritz concurred, saying, “We got this wonderful surprise news, but it is nothing earth-shattering. It is a step in the right direction.”
Trujillo, who has no criminal record and had been in the United States since 2002, has been viewed as a symbol of the current administration’s hardline on immigration and its enforcement.
After being identified with about 200 other undocumented workers during a raid at her job in West Chester Township, Trujillo Diaz applied for asylum in 2012. She was denied. Although she testified about fear for her safety, her appeals were dismissed in 2014. She remained in the United States as long as she checked with immigration officials annually and was issued a one-year work permit in 2016. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied her plea in May and she was deported back to Mexico.