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Utah Church lawsuit against migrant woman against ICE

Vicky Chavez has spent the past three years seeking refuge from deportation at a church in Salt Lake City.

A church in Utah supports a local family who filed a lawsuit against the US Immigration and Customs Service ICE.

According to The Deseret News, lead plaintiff Vicky Chavez, who is from Honduras, has spent the past three years in the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City.

Chavez had previously sought refuge in church with her two young children. After Chavez had exhausted her appeals to remain in the United States, she was on her way to the airport when the First Unitarian Church called and offered her sanctuary.

“It was an act of faith for the church to take refuge,” said Chavez, “and an act of faith that I should accept.”

While Chavez and her family entered the US illegally, immigration and customs officials are adhering to guidelines preventing them from carrying out arrest warrants, detaining or making arrests against migrants in sensitive locations such as churches or schools.

Now, the First Unitarian Church on board Chavez’s lawsuit has signed and joined her and three other migrant women who have faced similar situations in Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

Posters at an immigration rally; Image courtesy of StockSnap via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

The Church’s senior pastor, Reverend Tom Goldsmith, told KSL-TV that his organization and beliefs had prompted the move.

“The past three years have taught us that belief cannot be passive,” Goldsmith said. “It has to fight those who try to end the tyranny of injustice.”

“It’s also a message to other faith groups that says, ‘Look, get off your bottom. We still have a lot of work to do, ”he added. “It is one thing to preach the message, to welcome a stranger on a Sunday morning. It is another thing to actively work to make this happen.

And it wasn’t without a cost – Goldsmiths Church was fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for housing Chavez. While the fines have now been reduced to US $ 60,000, immigration attorney David Bennion was quick to describe the fees as “an outrageous amount that should not be underestimated.”

Bennion said he believes the Trump administration deliberately targeted the Church and its allies as a means of speaking out against the White House’s harsh immigration tactics.

“Because of these leaders speaking out, the Trump administration took the extraordinary measure to target them,” he said.

Deseret News quoted Chavez as saying that Church members actively helped her improve her English. She hopes to become an accountant after being granted the right to stay in the United States.

In the meantime, Chavez has asked the Biden administration to intervene.

Until then, Chavez has pledged to continue fighting within the Church.

“I will continue to fight for them to show the world that the US immigration system is unfair,” said Chavez.

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SLC’s First Unitarian Church joins sanctuary lawsuit against ICE

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