Protestors cheer after Hudson woman not detained or deported

March 08, 2017 05:45 PM

LATHAM -- Elsa Martinez was greeted by dozens of supporters as she walked into a check-in at Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Route 7 in Latham, on Wednesday.  

During her last visit, an agent took Martinez's passport. Her family was afraid they'd be taking their mother next.

"It's scary to even think that she is in there right now and they could take her right now," said Nicholas Gonzales, Martinez's son.  

Gonzales is one of Martinez's five American born children. Martinez fled to the United States 27 years ago to escape El Salvador's civil war. Now, she's self-employed cleaning houses.

Martinez's family says she has had legal immigration status, but now she's in limbo.

"If anyone deserves to be in this country, it's my mother, she's not a criminal," said Gonzales.  

After chants from the recently formed Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and anxiety from her family, Martinez walked out of her check-in. Agents told her she wouldn't be deported anytime soon.

Martinez thanked the dozens in the crowd for turning out.  

Martinez's case shows the uncertainty in the lengthy and sometimes complex immigration process.

"Even families who have their paperwork, that level of fear is still there," said Dina Gregory, Columbia County Sanctuary Movement.

Columbia County Sanctuary Movement put on the protest. The group was here last week for Maria Martinez-Chacon, who is Elsa Martinez's sister-in-law.

"There's a pretty dominant narrative that's breaking people into good immigrants and bad immigrants, and it's a little more complicated than that," said Gregory.  

It's a win for Martinez today, but she doesn't get her passport until she gets a new status. If she does.

Because El Salvador has problems with crime and poverty, Martinez was able to request Temporary Protected Status. That request is pending.  Martinez's lawyers are working on permanent status.

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Asa Stackel

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