GREENSBORO, N.C. – The morning of October 2, 2017 is one Minerva Cisneros García will never forget.
After living in Sanctuary at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro for nearly 100 days, she received the news that a federal judge in Texas ruled that her removal order is vacated. She was finally free to leave Sanctuary.
Cisneros García went into Sanctuary on June 28, 2017, the day before she was ordered to leave the country.
17 years ago, she entered the crossed the Mexican border to give her sons a better life and settled in Winston-Salem.
Eduardo, 21, the oldest of the three, is blind. He is a DACA beneficiary, while her younger sons, Antonio, 6, and Matteo, 3, are U.S. citizens from birth.
According to a press release from the church, members and other volunteers did everything they could to ensure the church felt like a home for her and her younger sons.
“Thank you. Thank you so much,” Cisneros García said emotionally in a press conference at the Congregational United Church of Christ. “It means a lot to me to have my freedom back.”
The first thing Cisneros García did with her freedom was visit her friend Juana Ortega, a Guatemalan grandmother in Sanctuary at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro.
When Cisneros García first went into sanctuary, Ortega told her to stay strong and trust she would be free.
“Thanks for those words you said to me that day,” Cisneros said to Ortega as they embraced. “Now I say the same to you,” she added.
Ortega says that Cisneros García’s freedom gives her hope that she too will be free to leave sanctuary too.