By SOPHIA EPPOLITO, Related Press/Report for America
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — After over three years dwelling in a Salt Lake Metropolis church to keep away from being deported, Honduran immigrant Vicky Chavez stepped outdoors Thursday with tears in her eyes as church congregants and buddies cheered, celebrating her newfound freedom.
Chavez and her two younger daughters took sanctuary in First Unitarian Church in January 2018 after she mentioned she fled an abusive boyfriend in Honduras and sought asylum in the USA however was denied.
Chavez entered the USA illegally in June 2014 and was ordered deported by a federal immigration choose in December 2016. After exhausting her appeals in January 2018, Chavez had a aircraft ticket dwelling to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She as an alternative accepted a proposal of sanctuary from the church.
Chavez mentioned she acquired a discover from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday that she had been granted a so-called a keep of elimination, which limits her danger of being deported for a yr.
“Vicky’s life is now not on maintain,” Rev. Tom Goldsmith, the church’s minister, informed reporters. “She leaves this church with a full grasp of the English language, a few hundred buddies and the arrogance to pursue her goals.”
Chavez thanked her neighborhood within the church for serving to maintain her and her daughters protected over the previous 1,168 days and mentioned she plans to stay in Utah.
“I’ve no phrases to thank them for giving me a protected dwelling for over three years,” Chavez mentioned. “Right now I can say that I am full of affection and completely satisfied to have arrived right here.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson had tears in her eyes as she congratulated Chavez and referred to as on residents and elected leaders to have “extra compassion” for members of their communities.
Chavez and her daughters have been the primary recognized immigrants to take sanctuary in Utah, in accordance with native immigration advocates and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
She and her daughters slept in a transformed Sunday classroom and spent most of their time in one other room with a TV, an easel and video games.
Skylar Anderson, Chavez’s legal professional, mentioned he was overjoyed for his consumer and her household however urged elected officers in Congress to prioritize modifications for the nation’s immigration system and to make the method simpler for these looking for asylum.
“There are tens of millions of Vickys on this nation — I’ve represented a lot of them,” Anderson mentioned. “There aren’t sufficient church buildings to offer sanctuary to all of the Vickys of this nation. This nation must be that sanctuary.”
Alethea Smock, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, had no remark Thursday about Chavez’ case.
In his first weeks in workplace, President Joe Biden signed a number of govt orders on immigration points that undo his predecessor’s insurance policies, although a number of Republican members of Congress are pushing authorized challenges.
Others who’ve emerged from sanctuary since Biden took workplace embody Jose Chicas, a 55-year-old El Salvador native, who left a church-owned home in Durham, North Carolina, on Jan. 22.
Eppolito is a corps member for the Related Press/Report for America Statehouse Information Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.