Commentary: Church members, community members, clergy, and local elected officials all rallied in support of Francia Elena Benitez-Castaño to demand she be granted a stay of removal. Francia is a longtime resident of Las Cruces, a member of Our Lady of Health Church, and a mother of two.
Bishop Cantú of the Dioceses of Las Cruces led the prayer vigil. Francia’s priest, her eldest son, Dr. Ewing, Superintendent Las Cruces Public Schools, and church members all spoke in favor of Francia, highlighting her contributions to the church community, her dedication to her children, and her deep faith values. Francia remains in ICE detention after her and her son, Jefferson, were detained last week. Jefferson was released last week due to his eligibility for DACA. The community gathered to pray for Francia and her family and to ask community members to call Alfredo Fierro, ICE Deputy Field Office Director, to request Benitez-Castaño be granted a stay of deportation.
“We plead with the deputy director of ICE, who has the final say as to what is to be done with Francia. We plead that she be released; that she be shown the mercy of our society, for the good of our society; that she be able to be reunited with her family. She has lived in the community for 18 years.” – Bishop Oscar Cantú, Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.
“I don’t blame my mom for the situation, because she came here in search of asylum. She knew as well as everyone that this amazing country was full of opportunity for those who are willing. It pains me to know her options are limited." – Jefferson Taborda