New Haven father takes sanctuary in local church

NEW HAVEN -- Nelson Pinos, who has lived in Connecticut since 1992, has decided to take sanctuary in the history First and Summerfield United Methodist Church on the heart of downtown New Haven.

Pinos was scheduled for deportation today. Instead of leaving at noon, Pinos decided to seek refuge so he can continue fighting his case.

“Open the door and welcomed those people who are looking for love, care and safety,” said Rev. Juhye Hahn of  First and Summerfield UMC.

“I am filing any and every application in motion we can think of to prevent him from getting deported from the United States,” said Attorney Yasmine Rodriguez, who has worked for four months as Pinos’ lawyer.

Pinos is a husband and father of three. He was a factory worker for 15 years and has no criminal record. Pinos game himself up for detention in 22012 hoping it would fix his immigration status. Since then, however, ICE has attempted to deport him.

A rally was scheduled for Nelson at 7:30 a.m., and he has the support of people like Senator Blumenthal who asked that ICE stay his deportation.

What is a sanctuary church and is is it legal?

Churches have historically provided refuge for people fleeing oppression. In the 1980s, ministers in Arizona provided a place to stay for people fleeing unrest in Central America. But the precedent of protection goes back further. People involved in the sanctuary movement trace the concept to the Bible. They cite Numbers 35:14-15 which says, “Ye shall give three cities beyond the Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan; they shall be cities of refuge. For the children of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, shall these six cities be for refuge.”  The ministers in Arizona were eventually arrested, and convicted, but no one served time in prison for the offense.

The policy of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been to avoid making arrests at “sensitive locations,” including places of worship.  ICE  has said the policy is in place so people can participate in religious activities and services at sensitive places like churches without fear of being taken into custody.  However, the policy does not specifically say people can stay at a church or religious site full time to avoid arrest. In some circumstances, with the authorization of officials, the agency will enter the house of worship.