After 17-years working in the United States, a Detroit father of two is now taking sanctuary inside of a church to avoid deportation. Albanian immigrant Ded Rranxburgaj, 48, found out in October of 2017 that he would be deported this month due to increased restrictions on immigration under the Trump administration. He has been in the country legally for his entire stay and raised a family in Michigan.
Rranxburgaj came to the US seeking asylum, but his request for asylum was denied by an immigration judge in 2006 and his 2009 appeal was also rejected. According to a report from Michigan Live, Rranxburgaj was still allowed to stay inside the US under ICE supervision for “humanitarian reasons.” This humanitarian status was revoked in 2017 after Trump altered immigration protocols last year. Because he had been a good citizen for almost two decades, ICE allowed Rranxburgaj to remain out of custody before his deportation. Rather than wait for that to change, Rranxburgaj, aware that ICE tries to avoid extracting people from houses of worship, sought sanctuary inside Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church.
Despite a 2011 memo issued by ICE which says that extraction will usually not take place in schools, hospitals or places of worship, it’s unclear how long Rranxburgaj will be able to avoid deportation by staying inside church. ICE agents can still defy the “sensitive locations policy” should a situation demand it and a local ICE spokesperson has already called Rranxburgaj a fugitive
On top of being a father of two, Rranxburgaj is also the primary caregiver for his wife who is battling Multiple Sclerosis so severe that it has affected her ability to walk, get dressed, and bathe — all things that her husband helps her do. More than just helping his wife, Rranxburgaj is the sole provider for her and his two children. According to his son Eric, should his father be deported, Rranxburgaj’s other son would have to drop out of school and both boys would need to start working.
The tight-knit Albanian community in Detroit, perhaps the largest outside of Europe, has been steadfast in support of Rranxburgaj. Jill Zundell, reverend of the church housing Rranxburgaj has vowed that the church will stand up for Rranxburgaj and his family no matter what.