Dingell, Lawrence: Give man in sanctuary deportation reprieve

Mar 2, 2018

Two Michigan members of Congress are taking a public stance in support of a Metro Detroit man facing deportation.

Ded Rranxburgaj, a native of Albania, entered the U.S. illegally in 2001. In January, he claimed sanctuary at Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church before he could be deported. The family, including two sons, has been living there ever since.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, right, comforts Flora Rranxburgaj as Ded Rranxburgaj looks on at Detroit's Central United Methodist Church.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Ded is the main caretaker for his wife, Flora, who has multiple sclerosis. He had been granted stays of deportation on humanitarian grounds, before the government reversed course and put him on a track for deportation last fall. The other Rranxburgaj family members currently have some form of legal status in the U.S.

Now U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence are calling on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to at least grant Ded a stay of deportation so that he can care for Flora.

Dingell says in some ways, the Rranxburgajs’ case is unique. But in other ways, it’s the same situation thousands of families across the country face.

Dingell says there needs to be some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have put down roots, contribute to their communities and the economy, and otherwise follow the law.

“We have to understand what this is, that they’re not a threat to our communities. They’re not a threat to us, they’re part of us,” Dingell said.

“Those people that are threats, we’re going to keep out. But these are our community members, and they make our communities stronger.”

Dingell says members of Congress used to be able to sponsor private bills to help out some immigrants in similar “extraordinary” situations, but that Republicans have recently changed the rules to restrict that option.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago, joined Dingell, Lawrence, the Rranxburgaj family, and a number of their supporters at Central United Methodist this afternoon.

Gutierrez says the family puts a face on immigration policies he calls “cruel” and “inhumane.”

“That’s what the government is doing here,” Gutierrez said. “It’s saying to a mom and a wife that is suffering from MS, ‘Your husband has to leave.’ He’ll never see her again.”

Gutierrez says across the board, the Trump administration is pursuing policies meant to break the country’s family-based immigration system, including its denunciation of “chain migration,” even among legal immigrants.