A mother of two is seeking sanctuary in a Utah church to avoid deportation.
“I came to the U.S. fleeing domestic violence, rape, and being persecuted by my daughter’s father,” said Chavez. “Coming to the United States meant safety from a man who suggested that he knows people who could harm my family.”
Chavez has a 6-year-old daughter she brought with her when she fled and a 4-month-old daughter who was born here and is a U.S citizen.
Community organizers were preparing to protest her deportation at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Tuesday, but at the last minute, Chavez decided to take a chance finding sanctuary rather than risk putting her childrens' lives in danger.
The First Unitarian Church opened its doors right away.
”We have volunteers that will be staying with Vicky 24/7,” said Amy Dominguez, a member of the group Immigrant Unity. “Everyday that she needs to be there she will be under protective custody, but ICE can still go in and detain her. If that does happen our plan is to expose ICE and pull out or camera and put it on video and show the public what it is like to have a mother detained in front of her children.”
Reverend Tom Goldsmith, the senior minister of the church, says the congregation unanimously decided to shelter Chavez and her daughters while their asylum case awaits approval.
"This church has opened its doors to a neighbor. We are all neighbors to each other and must therefore open our hearts in compassion," Goldsmith said.
Her application for asylum is still pending but according to ICE, she would be deported while her asylum case winds its way through the immigration system.