PAINESVILLE — A local Catholic priest is speaking publicly after learning one of his parishioners is facing deportation to Mexico.
Father Steve Vellenga pastors Saint Mary Catholic Church, where he says about half of the congregation is of Hispanic descent.
In a letter he read to his parishioners Sunday, he expressed concern over the impending deportation of Beatriz Casillas, who he says is an undocumented mother of four.
It reads in part, “Beatriz will be deported to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on Tuesday, drug cartel country. Two Painesville dads deported to Nuevo Laredo last Tuesday have been kidnapped for ransom, have not been heard from since their abductors put them on the phone asking for $3,000.”
Fr. Vellenga says he’s urged Casillas’ mother to make sure someone is in that area of Mexico to meet her once she’s dropped off to make sure she is safe.
He’s asking his parishioners to consider calling, emailing or writing their elected representatives to stop Casillas’ deportation.
Casillas' family met with Rep. Dave Joyce Monday morning:
The Casillas family doesn't have a problem with Beatriz being deported, it's the area that she is being deported to that has the family concerned.
Just last week, two Painesville fathers were kidnapped for ransom after being deported to Nuevo Laredo.
Maria Gomez, the wife of one of the men deported and kidnapped spoke with WKYC's Jasmine Monroe Monday.
She tells the nightmare of her family's story, describing the ransom phone calls she received for a week straight.
Maria, ended up paying $3,000 in ransom for her husband. He is now in a safe place.
Maria says no one should have to live through something as devastating as that and that's why she wanted to speak out today.
ICE released the following statement on the deportation of Beatriz:
"On July 24, Beatriz del Carmen Morelos Barajas, an illegally present citizen of Mexico, was arrested by U.S. immigration authorities, following her local arrest in Paynesville, Ohio. Morelos was previously removed from the United States in 2001. ICE has reinstated her previously issued final order of removal, and she will remain in agency custody pending removal from the U.S.
ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security. ICE conducts targeted immigration enforcement in compliance with federal law and agency policy. However, as ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan has made clear, ICE does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement. All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.
For operational security and detainee privacy, ICE does not comment about specific removal arrangements prior to a person's successful repatriation."