Albanian man in sanctuary at Detroit church finally able to leave after 3 years

Ded Rranxburgaj was in the sanctuary with his wife

Immigrant who took sanctuary inside Detroit church leaves after 3 years

DETROIT – For three years, Ded Rranxburgaj has been confined to the walls of Central United Methodist Church in Downtown Detroit, and for the first time, he’s able to leave.

”Today, right now, I’m just like a free man. After three and a half years, I have all the people with me,” Rranxburgaj said on Tuesday.

He was facing several consequences if he decided to unlawfully leave the building, including being arrested and deported. Thankfully, his wife Flora was with him every step of the way.

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Unfortunately, she’s been fighting a battle with multiple sclerosis the whole time.

“I can go outside with my wife. I can finally go home,” he said.

Church officials are now hoping for change in the overall immigration system.

“This is indeed a day of celebration for the family. But to be honest, it’s a day that did not have to happen. It is the result of this nation’s broken, inhumane and just plain cruel immigration system,” said the Rev. Paul Perez, director of connectional ministry of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Although it is only the beginning in his return to the outside world, it gives hope to Rranxburgaj, who was able to see two sons.

“All the people here -- Thank you and God bless you. I’m so happy for myself and you people with what you do for us,” he said.

The church and other lawyers who helped in the legal battle are continuing their push for immigration reform.

About the Author:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.