Butler County woman facing deportation fears Mexican cartels

Mexican drug cartels are a threat to the Butler County mother of four facing deportation to Mexico — something that could happen Tuesday — her lawyers argued in a last-minute appeal Monday.

Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a Fairfield resident and a lector who reads scriptures at St. Julie Billiart Church in Hamilton, lost one fight for asylum earlier Monday before her legal team appealed to the Cincinnati-based federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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“Ms. Trujillo Diaz’s family has been targeted by a criminal drug organization, La Familia, and its successor cartel, the Knights Templar, because of her brother’s refusal to work for La Familia,” the lawyers wrote.

The Fairfield woman, who has U.S.-born children between the ages 3 and 14, two with medical issues, had her case rejected on those grounds in mid-2014. But since then, the Knights Templar “has grown in prominence,” and in the meantime, her “father, mother, and younger brother have all suffered harm at the hands of the Knights Templar,” her lawyers wrote, adding it is well known in her hometown that her brother was living in this country and she helped support him.

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Trujillo Diaz, who goes simply by Trujillo, was apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday and taken to the Butler County jail. On Friday she was transported to the Morrow County Correctional Facility near Mount Gilead, the location from which people are flown to their home countries from Columbus. She was expected to board a plane Tuesday, unless a stay is granted.

Trujillo lost a request early Monday morning in front of the Board of Immigration Appeals.

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Some area lawmakers and law enforcement officers have said Trujillo broke the law by entering the U.S. illegally and should not receive special consideration because she has children.

On Sunday, about 300 people held a prayer service and walk that led from St. Joseph Church in Hamilton to a parking lot at Butler County’s jail, the last place Trujillo was in the county.

Supporters also held out hope that Ohio’s two U.S. senators will be able to put their weight into her case, which could mark a significant loss for many other immigrants if she is deported, her pastor at St. Julie’s, Father Mike Pucke said.

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“Our first concern is for Maribel, her husband and her four children,” Pucke said. “But, because this case is such a glaring miscarriage of justice, we are concerned if she is deported tomorrow, it could have terrible implications for literally thousands of people across the United States.”

“This is a case that clearly has national implications,” said Pucke, who has been interviewed by European media and reporters from numerous Spanish-speaking publications.

Dayton immigration lawyer Karen Denise Bradley doesn’t represent Trujillo but has followed her case.

If Trujillo’s appeal doesn’t succeed, “There’s really no other remedies in place, other than requesting a stay — and the government, ICE, they have complete and utter discretion in granting a stay of deportation,” Bradley said.

“You need a White House that would be able to exercise some kind of compassion for people, given these sets of circumstances,” Bradley said. Also: “I think we need to appeal to the public to continue to advocate on behalf of these people who are now very vulnerable.”

Mitchell Allen, a Deerfield Township attorney who handles immigration cases, but not Trujillo’s, said it should be a national priority to simplify and prioritize U.S. immigration laws.

“We’re going to have to answer this problem, and we need Congress to do something about it,” Allen said. “But in the meantime, a lot of people are going to suffer, and probably this lady is one of those folks who’s going to be in that situation.”

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