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Prayer vigil held for Racine pastor in danger of being deported

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RACINE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Racine pastor in danger of being deported drew a large crowd supporting her freedom Wednesday night.

Betty Rendon, a student pastor at Emaus ECLA Church, was arrested by ICE last week.

She’s now being held at the Kenosha County Detention Center with her husband and a guest staying at their house, who were also arrested.

Dozens of people came to a prayer vigil outside the facility.

Rendon came to the U.S. to escape civil war in her native Colombia.

Her request for asylum was denied and had been living here with an order of deportation out for her.

Speakers at the vigil asked ‘Why come after her now?’

Stephanie Mitchell is a parishioner of Rendon’s and a college professor who’s visited the pastor since the arrest.

She says the government officials created a traumatic experience for Rendon’s family.

“They were all armed, they were brandishing their revolvers, they pointed revolvers at members of the family,” Mitchell said.

Community faith leaders are now trying to petition for a stay of deportation.

“I think [the arrest’s] having its intended effect which is to cause fear,” said Bishop Paul Erickson of the Greater Milwaukee Synod. “I don’t believe our country is strong when we base it on an attitude of fear and resentment against those who are different from us.”

Erickson describes Rendon’s absence as a loss to the church even though the question of her immigration status prevented her from becoming fully ordained.

Rendon’s daughter was initially detained but was then released because she has protected status.

Rendon’s granddaughter was born here and is a U.S. citizen.

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