Nury Chavarria has been in the United States for more than 20 years. Last week Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, tried to compel her return to her native Guatemala, but she sought refuge in a New Haven church.
In a statement Friday, ICE called Chavarria a “fugitive.”
But speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, immigrant rights activist Kica Matos said the agency knows exactly where Chavarria is.
“She has not removed her ankle bracelet, which means that every step she takes, ICE is monitoring her,” Matos said. “The day she sought sanctuary, the pastor of the church had a press conference … her lawyer also contacted ICE to inform them that she was seeking sanctuary at the church.”
ICE policy generally directs its agents to avoid enforcement at “sensitive locations” like synagogues, mosques, and churches.
Julie Gonzales, a paralegal, worked on a similar sanctuary case in Denver -- where immigrant mother Jeanette Vizguerra took refuge in a church basement to avoid deportation.
“Jeanette’s a fighter. And Jeanette, when she walked into that church the morning of her check-in with ICE officials, she made the decision to stay here and fight for her children,” Gonzales said.
Vizguerra eventually got a two-year exemption.
Kica Matos said Chavarria’s family and children -- who are all U.S. citizens -- have been coming to visit her in the New Haven church as she figures out her next move.