Minister who supported Trump now faces deportation

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BY KATE MORRISSEY
SAN DIEGO UNION-
TRIBUNE/TNS

SAN DIEGO – Jorge Ramirez, a California minister and unauthorized immigrant, didn’t think he would end up in line for deportation when he encouraged his U.S. citizen daughter to vote for Donald Trump.

In line with his conservative religious beliefs, Ramirez considers himself a Republican, he said in an interview at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, where he is awaiting deportation proceedings.

Border Patrol picked him up after staking out his house early one May morning, and he’s been in the detention facility since.

Ramirez said he does not know why he is being targeted for removal from the U.S. The Trump administration has said that it is targeting criminals and those who have already been ordered deported. Ramirez said he falls into neither category.

Still supports Trump
He said he supports the Republican agenda on both fiscal and social issues and that he still supports Trump.

“Trump said, ‘Let’s keep all the good people here and all the bad people out,’” Ramirez said.

“That’s great, but I’m here,” Ramirez said of his detention situation. “If I’m here, anybody can be here. I’m not saying I’m the best person in the world, but I’ve tried to live a good life.”

Ramirez came to the U.S. with his family when he was 11 and was raised in North County. In high school, Ramirez joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps for the Marines, and when the Gulf War began, he tried to enlist. The military would not let him fight because of his immigration status.

Inside the detention facility, he’s been counseling and supporting other detainees with a message of hope and love, he said. Since he began attending a daily Bible study group in the facility, its numbers have grown to around 25 from about 10, he said.

Ramirez has spent his life as part of the Apostolic Church, where he is a music minister. His father served as a pastor, a post that led to the family coming to the U.S.

Ramirez said he met his wife, Silvia, through church. They married 22 years ago.

New court date
He hoped to get released on bond last Thursday at an immigration court hearing. His three children, all U.S. citizens, came with Juan Hernandez, the pastor for their church, to watch. They prayed in the waiting room as they waited their father’s turn.

Judge David Anderson said he would need more time to read through the 210-page packet that shows Ramirez’s ties to his community. It included several letters of support, records of Ramirez’s tax filings, his school achievements and the awards that his children have won.

Anderson rescheduled the hearing for August, so Ramirez will have to wait in detention for at least six more weeks.

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