A Sunday night vigil for Nury Chavarria drew hundreds, including Mayors Harry Rilling of Norwalk and Toni Harp of New Haven, to Igelsia de Dios Pentecostal Church in New Haven. They came to support the Norwalk mother of four who is living in the church to avoid deportation.
Mayor Rilling says he promised Chavarria that his city would support her and her family.
“We are going to be working with the Board of Education, with our social services agencies to make sure that her family can stay in their home, can stay in school, can have food on the table.”
Chavarria sought sanctuary from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, instead of following orders to fly to her native Guatemala last Thursday.
Chavarria has four U.S.-born children, including a 9-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven says she disagrees with ICE’s decision that could break up Chavarria’s family because she has no 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.”
Chavarria 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 children.
Supporters cheered as Chavarria thanked them Sunday night.
“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."
It was the first time Chavarria addressed the public since she sought sanctuary at the church last week.
If she leaves church grounds, she could be picked up by ICE officials. Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy says agents won’t take action in so-called sensitive areas, like hospitals and churches.