Francisca Lino, a mother of six who took sanctuary at a Humboldt Park church, is suing the Trump administration alleging civil rights violations in a final effort to avoid deportation.
Lino, 50, of Bolingbrook, skipped a final check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in August and took refuge at Adalberto United Methodist Church — the same parish on Chicago’s West Side that protected immigration activist Elvira Arellano.
She had 90 days to turn herself in or be considered a fugitive — a deadline that falls on Thanksgiving, Nov. 23.
With days to spare, Lino’s attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday alleging that the U.S. government violated her Fifth Amendment rights by expeditiously deporting her at the border without due process.
That arrest made Lino ineligible for legal immigration status, causing her to suffer “the loss of liberty, stress, anxiety and physical displacement.”
Her attorneys held a news conference at the church Tuesday and called on the federal government to keep Lino in the country.
“Admittedly, it’s a creative civil action,” said attorney Brendan Shiller. “In the very least, we’re hoping that it works in conjunction with her immigration defense to keep her in the country. Most ambitiously, it’s a winning civil action.”
Lino does not recall having received, read or understood any terms, conditions or charges in the removal order, according to the lawsuit. The removal order was presented to her in English, but she only spoke Spanish at the time.
She is seeking compensatory damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.
Her immigration attorney Chris Bergin said he’s planning to use the lawsuit to argue for a stay motion to keep Lino in the country while her federal lawsuit is pending.
“I have faith that things will work out. If not, I hope they at least give me time to gather my things and get my affairs in order to leave,” Lino said. “It’s a difficult situation. No one can prepare for this.”
Lino had illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 1999 but was caught, fingerprinted and released after a few hours. At the time, low-level immigration officers could expeditiously deport anyone who crossed the border, Bergin said.
After a few days, she made a second attempt and successfully crossed the border. She eventually settled in Bolingbrook with her husband, Diego Lino, a U.S. citizen. The couple had four children, though both had children from previous relationships.
Francisca Lino was arrested in 2005 during an interview to obtain her green card because her application did not disclose she had previously been arrested at the border, according to Bergin. He said Lino was the victim of notary fraud and that she had been honest with immigration officials from the start.
Lino was handed a deportation notice in March during a scheduled ICE check-in and was told to return to the immigration office on Aug. 23 with a plane ticket. Instead, she asked her husband to drive her to the Humboldt Park church.
Though churches can’t guarantee protection, they are generally off limits to law enforcement raids. A 2011 memo from the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement instructed federal agents to avoid “sensitive locations,” including hospitals, schools and houses of worship, unless there is an imminent risk.
The federal lawsuit names President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among others.
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