Members of a Salt Lake City church say they’re the first congregation in Utah to offer sanctuary to an immigrant woman and her children who are facing deportation.
Around 20 people gathered at the First Unitarian Church on Tuesday night, holding signs in support of Vicky Chavez. Chavez is from Honduras. The LDS mother of two came to the U.S. in 2014 to be with her family and escape domestic violence.
She was scheduled to be deported on Tuesday night. But instead of going to the airport to meet immigration officials, she took sanctuary in the church.
Speaking through an interpreter, Chavez said she wants her asylum case to be reopened while she’s still in the U.S.
"That’s why I have made this very difficult decision to enter sanctuary with my two daughters. I was thinking of returning but after much thought I could not expose my daughters to the violence that would await them in Honduras," Chavez said.
Reverend Tom Goldsmith is the senior minister of the church. He said the congregation made a unanimous decision to house Chavez and her daughters in hopes that their asylum case is considered.
"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.
Reverend Goldsmith said the Unitarian church is one of many around the country to begin offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants facing deportation.