The Pen

Lutheran Student Pastor and Husband Deported to Colombia by ICE, Despite Living in a Sanctuary City

Paula Hincapie Rendón speaks as her daughter, Layla, 5, holds the hand of Rev. Emily Heitzman during a vigil for Hincapie Rendón’s parents, Betty Rendón Madrid and Carlos Hincapie Giraldo, in Chicago May 28, 2019. On Tuesday, the couple was deported to their native Colombia (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)

On a recent Wednesday morning, Betty Rendón Madrid was still in her pajamas and making breakfast when immigration agents showed up at her home on Chicago’s South Side.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Rendón Madrid, a student pastor at an Evangelical Lutheran church in southern Wisconsin, along with her husband, Carlos Hincapie Giraldo. The couple’s 26-year-old daughter, Paula Hincapie Rendón, was also detained the same day after she was pulled over in traffic with her 5-year-old daughter in the car.

Though Hincapie Rendón was released within a few hours after showing that she had legal protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, her parents remained in ICE custody. In the past couple of weeks, the Evangelical Lutheran community in Wisconsin and Illinois joined immigrant advocates to hold vigils, write letters of support and organize news conferences in both states to bring attention to the case.

But by Tuesday morning, the couple had been placed on an airplane and deported to their native Colombia, ICE confirmed.

The National Immigrant Justice Center, which is representing the family, had filed an application with ICE last week seeking to stop the deportations for the couple, whose asylum claims were denied more than a decade ago. Diana Rashid, the attorney representing the family, said the center asked ICE to use its discretion and allow the couple to remain in the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has granted fewer of these types of applications than prior administrations, Rashid said.

“We think that this case is very different and it warrants different treatment,” Rashid said. “Betty and Carlos have no criminal record whatsoever, and the fact that Betty is a pastor in the Lutheran community and has these deep ties. They are also homeowners. … We think that distinguishes their case.”

Rashid said she received a call from ICE on Friday afternoon denying the couple’s application to halt the deportation. By the end of the holiday weekend, Rendón Madrid and Hincapie Giraldo had been moved to Louisiana to await the next flight to Colombia.

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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Elvia Malagon and originally published at the Chicago Tribune. Title changed by P&P.]