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Immigrant living in church gets second chance to avoid deportation

Advocates for a Mexican woman who has avoided deportation for almost two months by living in a Southwest Side church said Sunday that authorities are giving her case a second look, and she may be allowed to stay in the United States.

Beatriz Santiago-Ramirez, a native of Mexico and a single mother of two young American children, was the victim of sexual assault in the U.S. and cooperated in the investigation, leading to a conviction. That should make her eligible for a special visa. But she hasn’t been able to get one because a public official has not certified those facts, said advocates.

“The judge reopened the deportation hearing and there is now no active deportation against her – it has been vacated,” said Juan Soliz, Santiago-Ramirez’s attorney. “However, the government has the option of appealing within 30 days.”

Soliz added that he would be “surprised” if the government appealed the judge’s decision. If Santiago-Ramirez’s visa goes through – which can take up to four months – it would be valid for three years, Soliz said.

According to a news release sent out Sunday by immigration reform campaigners Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, Ramirez’s motion to have the case re-opened was granted last week.

A representative of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not be reached Sunday evening to confirm Ramirez’s immigration status.

Ramirez, 32, has been living in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission, 2955 W. 25th St., with her two kids since September 7.

“This is a tremendous victory for the sanctuary movement,” Father Jose Landaverde, Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, said in the news release. “While Beatriz’s case is still not fully resolved, we are ecstatic that she will likely be granted the relief she deserves and will be able to live peacefully and without fear as she awaits the resolution of her case.”