Vigil Held For Woman Seeking Sanctuary From ICE In New England Church

Jul 24, 2017

Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
Credit RYAN CARON KING / WNPR

Sunday, hundreds of people held a vigil for a mother of four that has been living in a New Haven church to seek sanctuary from deportation.   

Nury Chavarria sought religious protection from Immigration and Customs Enforcement instead of flying to her native Guatemala last Thursday.

For the first time since then, Chavarria stepped outside Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church to address the public. She thanked more than 200 supporters from the church parking lot.

“Thank you to everyone for being here. I am very grateful for your support I am grateful for all the people who have been by my side at this time. I have come to know more people than I've known before and I am grateful for everyone in New Haven.  Thank you.”

Chavarria could not leave the church property or she could be picked up by ICE officials.

She has no criminal record and had been checking in with ICE after overstaying deportation orders in the 1990s. ICE had allowed her to stay on humanitarian grounds to care for her four U.S. born children.

Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven challenged ICE’s decision to deport Chavarria. She says Chavarria does not have a criminal record and has been caring for her U.S.-born children.

“In Connecticut we value acceptance, and tolerance, and patience. And we certainly don’t send people more than 1,000 miles away from their home and family without a legitimate reason,” Harp said.

ICE won’t take action at sensitive locations like hospitals or churches.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative. Eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.