LORAIN – It was late in the day on Ash Wednesday when Anabel Barron said she fell to her knees in front of a picture of the Virgin of Guadelupe, crying. For the first time in weeks, they were tears of joy.
Last week, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office granted Barron, who’s undocumented, a yearlong stay in the country. It was the result of an almost yearlong process of applying and waiting.
“I was so happy,” Barron said of the moment she realized she would be staying in the country for a year. “I don’t have the exact words to describe what I was feeling.”
Barron’s parents illegally brought her to the United States from Mexico when she was 16 years old and she has been living in Lorain for most of her life since then. Last May, Barron was pulled over for speeding in Sheffield Lake and police contacted ICE. Since that day, Barron and her attorney, Jennifer Peyton, have been fighting to keep the 33-year-old mother of 4 in the country. In June, Barron and Peyton applied for a yearlong stay, which ensures that Barron will not be deported for a year unless she commits a serious crime, according to Peyton.
Last Wednesday, their efforts paid off when Peyton received a fax from ICE saying that Barron’s application had been approved.
“Decisions are based on the merits of each case, the factual information provided to the agency and the totality of the circumstances,” ICE media spokesperson Khaalid Walls said, adding that ICE has been discussing Barron’s case since June.
Though Peyton said ICE never indicated their specific reasons for granting Barron a stay, she believes it could have something to do with support that Barron has from the Lorain community.
Barron said she was in Washington, D.C., on a trip to talk to Sen. Sharrod Brown about immigration laws when she got the news about her application.
“I started crying and screaming,” Barron said, describing how she knelt in front of a picture of the Virgin of Guadelupe in a church that evening and cried. “There was so much I was holding in.”
For the rest of the year, Barron said she plans to finish school, continue her volunteer work and be with her children without fear of being taken away.
“I’m going to enjoy life with my kids,” Barron said.
Though she knows she will have to reapply for another stay in a year, Barron has a positive outlook on her future.
“A lot can happen in a year.”