Supporters rally around undocumented immigrant seeking sanctuary in church

“If my dad got deported I don’t know what we would do.”

Erik who is just 15-years-old, addressed a crowd of people braving the cold to support his father.  They rallied outside the immigration office in Detroit – the day before his father Ded Rranxburgaj is scheduled to be deported.

“Give Ded a stay! Flora needs him every day,” chanted supporters outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Detroit.

Ded came to the U.S. from Albania 17 years ago seeking asylum. He’s been trying to get his immigration status straight for years. During that time his wife, Flora, became seriously ill with Multiple Sclerosis. She’s completely dependent on her husband for everything. He’s been allowed to stay to take care of her.

Late last year, he was told his time was up and he would be deported. Now the family is living at Central United Methodist Church, so he can continue to care for his wife and avoid deportation. The church has raised thousands of dollars to support and care for them.

“It’s been really amazing that people are really understanding this story and reaching out to us and encouraging us. That helps us keep keeping on with what we’re doing,” said Pastor Jill Zundel.

Zundel is trying to deliver a petition to the ICE Office asking for a stay of deportation, but she was not allowed in.

Ded Rranxburgaj has his plane ticket to leave the country on Thursday. He says he’s not going and ICE says they will not be entering the church to apprehend him. It’s considered a sensitive location.

Now supporters of the family and their attorneys are hoping and praying – trying to keep the family together.

“We’re not here to protest. We’re here to raise our voice to whoever made this decision – they can review this and hopefully they can come up with better judgement. He’s been a very good citizen, never had any issues with the law,” said Benny Burgaj, Ded’s cousin.

Erik Rranxburgaj said “I’m trying to stay positive and optimistic but I’m still extremely scared about it. There still could be a chance after all this that my dad could be deported and that frightens me because that could separate out entire family.”

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