Que Viaja Seguro, Enrique


Long-time readers will remember that we have prayed for our friend and brother for over a year now, during his incarceration at the Immigration-and-Customs-Enforcement detention center in Farmville, Va. We have prayed that he would not be deported.

He will be deported. On Tuesday, or the Tuesday after that, or the Tuesday after that.

His Mexican-American family will remain, separated from husband and father for the foreseeable future. Enrique will go to his brother’s house in Jalisco, in a town that is by no means safe.

May the good and holy Lord watch over us all and keep us from evil. May the insane Reign of Terror, that is our immigration-enforcement apparatus, come crashing down. I love my country, but I am not proud to be an American today. This sucks.

Enrique Update

ICA Farmville
ICA Farmville

Thank you, dear reader, for praying for our friend Enrique Manriquez during his asylum hearing yesterday.

The best news would, of course, have been:

Judge: “Why are we holding you in custody? Why have we held you in custody for the past nine months? This is absurd. Have mercy on us, Lord! Sir, please accept our apologies and a check for all your lost earnings, and go home where you belong.”

But such moments might have to wait until the parousia. (That is, the same moment when the Roe v. Wade court will see clearly what they wrought, and will declare, rending their garments in agonized contrition, “Oh God, Oh God, have mercy on us. We were blind to the most obvious facts!”)

Anyway, all musing aside…

Enrique has another hearing scheduled for June 15. Good news, as it goes. No surprise that there are a lot of hoops to get through. Yesterday he got through one.

Let’s keep praying.

Enrique Hearing


Hopefully, dear reader, you remember that ICE agents arrested our dear friend and brother Enrique Manriquez outside St. Joseph Church in Martinsville last May.

Thanks to the generosity of kind benefactors, Enrique has had legal counsel. He decided to pursue an asylum claim.

For nine months, Enrique has sat in a detention center awaiting a hearing date, while his son had his sophomore year of college, his daughter her junior year of high school and his other son (whose high-school graduation Enrique missed) worked with his mom to keep the family financially afloat. Meanwhile, Enrique has lost a few pounds and started a Bible-study group in the jail.

Now Enrique will have a hearing! On April 2.

Holy Thursday. The tenth anniversary of the death of Pope St. John Paul II.

A good day for lots and lots of prayers.

Pray for the Release of Enrique

Enrique Update

ICA FarmvilleFresh from Mexico’s moral victory over Brazil this afternoon, I had the blessed opportunity to visit our Enrique this evening, in the detention center on the outskirts of Farmville, Va. The same Farmville where, 149 years ago, Lee’s army repeatedly retreated after losing skirmishes to Federals, landing them in Appomatox.

But I digress. Let it be a testimony to the decency of our nation that:

1. Enrique himself had just watched the better part of the Brazil-Mexico game. 2. He is recovering well from a flu he caught last week, having been helped by a doctor, who has also supplied him with his diabetes medicine. 3. He has lost a few pounds, but no more than he could well have stood to lose anyway. 4. He has a nice tan from the walks he can take around the soccer field every other day. He has indomitable spirits, and no complaints.

His deportation order was stayed last week, a miracle to be attributed to your holy prayers, dear reader. The strategy now is to apply for asylum, on the grounds that his hometown in Jalisco is too violent to live in, owing to drug-running operations there.

Enrique asked me especially to extend his regards and gratitude to everyone who is lovingly praying for him and supporting him. His next step is to await an appointment at which he could appeal for asylum. Please pray that he can get one soon, and that a sympathetic listening ear will greet his request.

More info as it becomes available. We are in halfway-decent shape when it comes to the legal-defense funds, but further appeals for donations may become necessary if things go well, and he gets to the next stage of actually mounting his asylum request before a judge.


Ben Williams

Ben Williams!

from today’s Martinsville Bulletin:

Frustration dealing with feds
Thursday, June 5, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS – Bulletin Staff Writer

Franz Kafka’s novel “The Trial” tells the tale of Josef K., a man arrested by two agents of a mysterious, inaccessible government agency.

The crime that K. committed never is revealed to either K. or the reader. He is a man at the mercy of a vast, inexplicable bureaucracy.

The term “Kafkaesque” has come to describe situations reminiscent of Kafka novels, often involving someone trapped in a disorienting bureaucratic maze.

Enrique Manriquez likely would feel a certain kinship with Josef K. The more I have tried to learn about the charges against Manriquez, the more Kafkaesque his situation has become.

Kafka the TrialFor two weeks, I have tried to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that dispatched two agents to arrest Manriquez on May 21 as he watered the flowers he and his sons had planted at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville.

Manriquez’ younger son, Eduardo, was told by the agents that he could track his father through the ICE detainee database, located at http://www.ice.gov. He entered in his father’s name, country of origin and birth date, but to no avail. Eduardo couldn’t find his father in the system.

I also was unable to find Manriquez in the database. I’ve entered his name countless times in the last two weeks, and as of Wednesday, he had yet to be listed.

According to Father Mark White, pastor of St. Joseph, Manriquez was taken to Roanoke City Jail after his arrest, then transferred a few days later to an immigration detention facility in Farmville. White said Manriquez was told he soon would be deported to Mexico, his birth country.

Jim McGarry, an attorney and friend of the Manriquez family, said that Manriquez was arrested because of a deportation order from 1990 that “either was not complied with or was not fully complied with.”

However, McGarry said, he has yet to see any of the official documentation outlining the charges against Manriquez.

I called ICE on several of the phone numbers listed on its website. I had just one question to ask: what charges, exactly, have been issued against Enrique Manriquez?

I have yet to ask this question because I have yet to speak with a human being at ICE. I have instead been met with byzantine, looping phone menus.

The direct media contact phone number for ICE returns a busy signal, more often than not. When I’ve been able to leave voicemails, my messages have not been returned.

Many of the phone menu options on the ICE hotline do not even seem to work. After listening to menu options for five minutes, I pressed six for media inquiries, only to have a recorded voice tell me that no such extension existed.

Last week, desperate to talk to a human being, I pressed the menu option for the spell-by-name directory. I punched in the name “Smith,” assuming ICE employed at least one Smith. Mr. Smith has yet to respond to my voicemail.

A large portion of my job involves calling people. I’ve waded through many a phone menu, and I’m familiar with shortcuts to connect directly to a live speaker. I call congressmen and senators frequently, and I can almost always get them or their spokesmen on the phone.

Yet two weeks of phone calls and emails to one government agency resulted in nothing more than two weeks of wasted effort.

If I — a native English speaker whose job is talking to people — cannot reach a human being at ICE, what hope does the family of an immigrant possibly have?

There is a popular conception — I would argue a popular misconception — that undocumented immigrants do not contribute to society. Yet Enrique Manriquez, whatever his citizenship status, seems like a man who is defined by his contributions.

Manriquez worked hard to support his family, helping pay for his oldest son’s college education. He started an AA group for Spanish speakers at his church. He and his wife cooked tamales for church fundraisers.

One man has been detained, but his four family members — all of them U.S. citizens — are suffering, too. Their futures now are filled with as much uncertainty as Manriquez’ own.

Because I do not know the exact charges against Manriquez I cannot say whether or not he broke the law. If he did, that offense occurred nearly 25 years ago.

Since then, Manriquez has worked hard, raised a family, contributed to his church and helped out in his community in a multitude of ways.

What could be more American?

Click HERE for hot-link.

Local Paper

Enriquepublished a story about our dear Enrique, with extensive quotes from the goofiest priest in the ‘ville.

Click HERE.

We thank Ben Williams for his excellent work. We look forward to reading his further reportage. He told me he finds himself deeply disturbed by the “Kafkaesque” limbo into which Enrique has fallen.

Please keep praying. And please contact your US Senator, your US Congressman, your state senators and congressmen, and anyone else you can think of, and insist/beg that they intervene personally to get Enrique Manriquez, of Martinsville, Va., out of jail and back home where he belongs.

Journalists Getting Interested In Enrique’s Plight

Whitney Delbridge broadcast this report on WSET ABC 13 Lynchburg/Roanoke/Danville:

click for: video (with pictures from the prayer vigil) or text

We really enjoyed talking to Whitney, and she assured us of her prayers.

Also click for: Katie Love’s report (of WSLS 10 Roanoke). She stopped to see us at the prayer vigil.

Also click for: Martinsville Bulletin report, by Ben Williams. Also: Ben’s editorial on dealing with ICE

Prayer Vigil Pics

thanks to Bob Humkey (Click HERE for full set.)

Enrique, Jr., and Co.
Enrique, Jr., and Co.
Seminarian Dan and other prayer warriors
Seminarian Dan and other prayer warriors
Lord, give us a miracle!
Lord, give us a miracle!
Have mercy on us
Have mercy on us

In the hot sun

Pray for the Release of Enrique
Caratina Manriquez and Co.
Bendita tu eres...
Bendita tu eres…
May the good Lord bless everyone who came
May the good Lord bless everyone who came

Coupla sun-strokes. (Seminarian Dan, paramedic, acted swifty.)

Some nice chats with the police.

We just missed one guy. Please, Lord, do us a solid and get him back to us.

Memorial Day Jailhouse Speech


We have no beefs with the Roanoke Sheriff’s Dept., or even with the officers who arrested Enrique.

Now, maybe they could have stopped to ask themselves, Should we arrest a perfectly peaceful man who is busy watering the plants at a church?

They probably did not know that Enrique’s son Eduardo, who is as American as you or me, was going to have to graduate from high school with his father in jail. His father, who sits on the Parish Council of his church, who spends more time at the church than the priest himself.

But the officers were simply enforcing the laws. The problem is that the laws have grown obsolete. They do not reflect the reality of the situation in our American communities.

We remember the soldiers who fought and died for what America stands for. This ain’t it. That Enrique Manriquez languishes in jail on Memorial Day is unworthy of the memory of the soldiers who died for our ideals of fairness and freedom.

We need new laws. And they need to release Enrique. His family needs him. His church family needs him. The business he works for needs him. His American community needs him.

Enrique Numbers

Enrique and his family

I have known Enrique Manriquez for three years, ever since I became the pastor of his church. Now he is languishing in Roanoke City Jail, en route to the ICE detention facility in Farmville, Va.

These are my scientific estimates, based on daily observations:

Hours Enrique has spent at our church fixing things and beautifying the place: approx. 1,000,000

Groups of workers he has organized to keep the place clean and neat: 100

Tamales he has carried from his kitchen to the church for the benefit of hungry people: approx. 10,000

AA meetings conducted in Spanish that Enrique has made possible: 104

Prayer grottoes that Enrique had agreed to build for free: 1

Lightbulbs in the ceiling of the church which Enrique has risked his life to change: 100

Sons whose high-school graduation Enrique will miss while sitting in jail: 1

Daughters who wept inconsolably for hours after Enrique was whisked away in a black Chevy driven by a man with “Immigration” on his jacket: 1

U.S. Citizens in Enrique’s immediate family: 4 (both his sons, his daughter, and his wife)

Number of times Enrique has committed a crime: 0

Children who, this Sunday, will miss seeing Enrique and his smile: 150

If you are a Knight of Columbus, Enrique is your brother. If you are a Colts fan, he is your brother. If you work hard and hustle to provide for your family, he is your brother. If you love to be outside, and garden, or sit around and talk sports, he is your brother.

If you are a Christian, he is your brother. If you are a decent human being who tries to help others, he is your brother.

Please help us fight to get him out of jail. And please pray to St. Toribio for a miracle.

Enrique Manriquez Legal Defense Fund–St. Joseph’s
St. Joseph Catholic Church
2481 Spruce St.
Martinsville VA 24112