Manuel Gonzalez Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant, says he needed to come to the U.S. to escape crime in Mexico and make a better life for his family.
"What would you do for your family?" Hernandez said in Spanish. "What extent, what would you do to keep them together?"
But now, his family could soon be ripped apart. On Wednesday, he faced an immigration judge to learn his fate, but his wife, Edith Espinal, already knows hers. She's taken asylum inside of a Columbus Church since early October to stop her deportation.
"After being a family together, she’s still separated from us even though she’s in the city and we can see her regularly, just little things that you wouldn't think about like going to the store together or going to church and those little things are family things and we can’t do that cause she can’t leave that church," he said.
In the middle of it all, is the couple's three kids—two of which are U.S. Citizens. 16-year-old Stephanie is one of them.
"I don’t think I would be able to stay by myself, I wouldn't be able to live without my parents, like I need them next to me," said Stephanie Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says the couple was deported a few years back, but came back to the U.S. and sought sanctuary. They faced the uncertainty of being forced back to Mexico a second time.
"It’s really scary over there, I’ve been told that there’s been shooting between the cartels and the police and I don’t want my parents to go through that," she said.
Following the hearing, an immigration judge has allowed Gonzalez to stay—for now. It's unclear for how long he would be able to stay and he is expected to have another court hearing in the near future.
ICE keeps track of the number of deportations by areas—here in Ohio we are grouped with Michigan. 3,203 since January of 2017 have been deported from the Ohio and Michigan areas.
ICE says they cannot comment on active cases.