STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Church shields mom from deportation

A Utah mother of two who is facing deportation was about to board a plane to her native Honduras when she changed her...

Posted: Feb 1, 2018 6:36 PM
Updated: Feb 1, 2018 6:37 PM

A Utah mother of two who is facing deportation was about to board a plane to her native Honduras when she changed her mind and went to a church instead.

Vicky Chavez was on her way to the airport Tuesday night with her daughters, a 6-year-old and 4-month-old. She realized her home country was too dangerous for the little girls and instead moved into First Unitarian Church in downtown Salt Lake City, said Assistant Minister Monica Dobbins.

"She'll be in the safest place that she can be," Rev. Dobbins said. "We're supporting her through an incredibly difficult time."

The last-minute decision made Rev. Dobbins' church the first in Utah to offer sanctuary to someone seeking to avoid deportation, she said. The 30-year-old mother was seeking asylum but was outpaced by her deportation case, Rev Dobbins said.

Inside the church, ministers and volunteers modified an area to create a makeshift apartment for the LDS family.

"It's hard to live a normal life when you're in a building that you can't leave," she said, but church leaders and members of the congregation were trying to make the space as normal as possible, with books, games and cozy surroundings.

Federal immigration officials have directed officers to avoid making arrests at places of worship under a "sensitive locations" policy that also pertains to schools, hospitals, rallies and weddings, among other places.

Chavez declined through a spokeswoman to speak with reporters Wednesday, but said in a statement she was fleeing upheaval in Honduras and violence in her home when she came to the U.S. in 2014.

She "has exhausted her appeals through the immigration courts," the U.S. Customs and Enforcement Agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The federal Board of Immigration Appeals rejected Chavez's request for a stay of deportation on Tuesday, and she was removed from an alternative-to-detention program the next day, the agency said.

The First Unitarian congregation in a recent vote approved providing sanctuary in such cases, Rev. Dobbins said, noting that other places of worship around the country also were providing sanctuary to immigrants seeking to avoid deportation.

"This is a faith issue," she said, noting that Chavez's looming return to Honduras would be difficult and dangerous. "We're considering this civil disobedience to an unjust law."

Kristin Knippenburg of Red de Solidaridad, one of the groups rallying around Chavez, agreed.

"ICE assumes that when they order these families to leave, they will do so just as quietly, just as anonymously, and we're ensuring that isn't the case," Knippenburg said in a statement.

As the family settles into its temporary home, activists were seeking to reopen an asylum case for the family, said Amy Dominguez, of Unidad Inmigrante.

Under the direction of President Donald Trump, ICE has ramped up immigration enforcement, including in Utah, where high-profile cases have included parents ordered to return to Mexico and South America.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 726600

Reported Deaths: 13379
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion992781737
Lake53359964
Allen40387675
St. Joseph35449550
Hamilton35440408
Elkhart28376439
Tippecanoe22336217
Vanderburgh22271396
Porter18637306
Johnson17876377
Hendricks17154314
Clark12919191
Madison12574339
Vigo12426245
Monroe11845169
LaPorte11773210
Delaware10615185
Howard9859215
Kosciusko9366117
Hancock8239140
Bartholomew8042155
Warrick7766155
Floyd7645177
Grant7019174
Wayne7018199
Boone6669101
Morgan6547139
Dubois6148117
Marshall6000111
Dearborn578577
Cass5780105
Henry5681102
Noble558283
Jackson500472
Shelby489496
Lawrence4492120
Gibson434391
Harrison434271
Clinton426853
DeKalb425284
Montgomery423388
Whitley394439
Huntington387480
Steuben382957
Miami380266
Knox371890
Jasper362747
Putnam358560
Wabash353178
Adams340654
Ripley338970
Jefferson328881
White312854
Daviess295899
Wells290481
Decatur283592
Fayette278662
Greene276685
Posey270933
LaGrange264770
Scott264753
Clay259245
Randolph239781
Washington239532
Spencer231331
Jennings229248
Starke214452
Fountain211946
Sullivan211042
Owen197056
Fulton194640
Jay191830
Carroll188120
Perry182637
Orange182454
Rush172925
Vermillion168343
Franklin167735
Tipton162345
Parke145916
Blackford134532
Pike133034
Pulaski116045
Newton107034
Brown101541
Crawford99114
Benton98414
Martin87815
Warren81415
Switzerland7848
Union70710
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1080121

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1254981392
Cuyahoga1115202107
Hamilton798171200
Montgomery512711012
Summit46997933
Lucas41982782
Butler38273580
Stark32190907
Lorain24910480
Warren24249297
Mahoning21474586
Lake20586368
Clermont19727238
Delaware18496131
Licking16396210
Fairfield16144199
Trumbull15996466
Medina15233262
Greene15027244
Clark13960297
Wood13056188
Portage12806201
Allen11609231
Richland11308198
Miami10659215
Muskingum8795132
Wayne8777210
Columbiana8756229
Pickaway8547121
Marion8511135
Tuscarawas8467243
Erie7859154
Hancock6900126
Ross6835152
Ashtabula6777169
Geauga6665148
Scioto6398101
Belmont5856167
Union570047
Lawrence5542102
Jefferson5511151
Huron5422119
Darke5344122
Sandusky5330120
Seneca5268121
Athens518258
Washington5148109
Auglaize488484
Mercer480185
Shelby468593
Knox4479110
Madison435461
Putnam4268100
Ashland421289
Fulton420969
Defiance418997
Crawford3965106
Brown392957
Logan381176
Preble379098
Clinton370561
Ottawa366279
Highland353861
Williams338075
Champaign330458
Guernsey315453
Jackson312051
Perry294550
Morrow283839
Fayette281449
Hardin270364
Henry268166
Coshocton264258
Holmes2590101
Van Wert242863
Pike237433
Adams237052
Gallia235048
Wyandot230654
Hocking215162
Carroll191247
Paulding172440
Meigs144639
Noble133337
Monroe131942
Morgan108323
Harrison107537
Vinton82415
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Angola
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 37°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 40°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 41°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 51°
A cold start Saturday with widespread frost expected. We'll see plenty of sunshine for most of the day. Then, clouds build in during the late afternoon and evening.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events