A Norwalk mother who has lived in the United States for 24 years is refusing deportation and would not board a plane back to Guatemala on Thursday.
Nury Chavarria left her native Guatemala in 1993, when she was 19, and applied for asylum. Her application was denied, but she remained in the U.S., with nothing to go back to at home.
Chavarria, a mother of four, is currently seeking asylum at the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church on East Pearl Street in New Haven, because immigration officials cannot arrest her on church property.
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"We have been informed that Nury Chavarria has opted to seek refuge in a local church through sanctuary," a statement from the law firm representing Chavarria with her ICE case said.
Since 2011, she has had yearly check-ins with immigration officials. Each year she was given the approval to remain in the U.S.
Chavarria said she has no criminal record, works as a housekeeper, and pays taxes. She believed those factors would allow her to remain in the U.S., despite President Donald Trump's administration’s focus on deportations. All that changed at her June check-in, when ICE officials told her in five weeks she would have to pack up her life and leave.
“I told him, 'I’m not a criminal. I’m a mother with four children. They are citizens. USA. I want to stay here to help them and keep my family together,'” she said.
ICE issued Chavarria an ankle-monitor to track her movements ahead of her removal. Meanwhile, her 9-year-old daughter has a plea for President Trump.
“Please let my mom stay because she has four children, and I’m one of them and I really want her to stay,” Hayley Chavarria said.
New Haven attorney Glenn Formica and the volunteer activist group Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible have taken on Chavarria's case.
"The current policy doesn’t allow common sense adjudication … doesn’t allow them any discretion to say 'Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to force Nury to leave her four children here and become burdens on the state,'" Formica said.
“This is just inhumane. Things have to change. This is not who we are as a people. We have compassion, we care about people,” added Charla Nich of Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible.
When NBC Connecticut reached out to ICE on the case, they released the following statement Monday:
"Nury Chavarria was allowed to voluntarily depart by a federal immigration judge in 1998, and failed to comply, rendering her subject to final order of removal in 1999. In 2010, the agency deferred her removal for one year on humanitarian grounds.
As a current exercise of discretion, the agency has allowed her to remain free from custody while finalizing her timely departure plans. The agency will continue to closely monitor her case to ensure compliance."
Chavarria's request to stay was denied Tuesday.
Gov. Dannel Malloy visited the church Thursday and said her situation in Connecticut speaks to the breakdown of immigration policy in Washington, focusing on removing the wrong people from this country.
He said there is nothing more the state can do for her except to give her support.