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Norwalk Woman Ordered Deported Seeks Sanctuary In New Haven Church

Jul 20, 2017

A mother of four who has lived in the U.S. for 24 years is refusing to abide by a deportation order to her native Guatemala and has taken sanctuary in a Connecticut church. 

Nury Chavarria of Norwalk was supposed to board a plane on Thursday but instead has gone to the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal church in New Haven. 

In a news conference outside the church, her youngest child, 9-year-old Hayley, said her mother is not a criminal and she loves her. She appealed to President Trump not to separate her family.

Chavarria's children are all American citizens. Her oldest child, who is 21, has cerebral palsy.

Wednesday, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy asked federal immigration authorities for a stay of deportation on humanitarian grounds, but that was denied.

Chavarria escaped violence in Guatemala in 1993 and entered the U.S. illegally. Her request for asylum was denied. In 1998, she got an order for voluntary deportation, but did not leave. According to ICE, she was given a final order of removal in 1999.

Ten years after that, ICE found Chavarria in Norwalk working full-time as a house cleaner and the mother of U.S. children -- one of whom lives with significant disabilities.

In 2010, federal immigration deferred Chavarria’s removal for one year on humanitarian grounds. Though she's gotten repeated stays of the deportation order since then, her time has apparently run out. She’s set to leave the country on Thursday. She has no criminal record.

In a statement, Blumenthal said Trump's administration “turned a blind eye” to the case. Blumenthal called her deportation a “tragedy,” and said his office is contacted daily by Connecticut families facing deportation, despite the fact that they haven’t committed crimes, have citizen children, and have jobs.

Murphy said he sent a letter to ICE urging discretion in Chavarria’s case.

“I’m heartbroken for the Chavarria family,” he said in a statement. “Nury is a hard worker and the sole caretaker of her four U.S. citizen children. She’s not one who we should be focusing our limited law enforcement time and effort on deporting.”

In a statement last week, ICE officials said Chavarria was allowed to remain free while she finalized her departure plans.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.