ELCA pastor detained by ICE

Betty Rendón, who is also a doctoral student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was arrested when ICE raided her home.
May 15, 2019
Pastor Betty Rendón
Betty Rendón. Courtesy photo.

Church members and supporters are rallying around a Lutheran pastor who is being detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Wisconsin.

Betty Rendón, a pastor at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin, and doctoral student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, was arrested on May 8 along with several of her family members after ICE raided their home.

The Racine Interfaith Coalition is planning a prayer vigil at the Kenosha County Detention Center at 6 p.m. tonight.

Emmaus Lutheran Church wrote that Rendón had come to the United States from Colombia after the school where she was the director was attacked by guerrillas, who assaulted several teachers.

“She applied for asylum in the US, but was eventually denied due to the lack of a police report [on the attack], although she says everyone in the area knew of the attack,” the church wrote. “Once her appeals were exhausted, she was issued an order of deportation, but it was never executed.  We are at a loss to explain why ICE should have decided to execute it now, just as Pastor Rendón is beginning her doctoral studies in preaching at the LSTC in Chicago.”

ICE officers raided Rendón’s house on May 8 after arresting her daughter while she was driving her own daughter to school in Chicago. That church wrote that Rendón’s daughter “was stopped by ICE officers who admitted they were looking specifically for her.”

Rendón’s daughter has Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, by which undocumented people are allowed to remain in the United States and be eligible to work. ICE officers released her, while Rendón, her husband, and a cousin who was staying in their home remained in ICE custody.

In the midst of the raid, Rendón sent a text message to the church “to inform us that she would likely not be able to preach on Sunday. Pastor Rendón was particularly struck by the celebratory tone of the officers. They were jubilant because they had managed to arrest so many people in a single raid.”