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Norwalk mother still seeking refuge in New Haven church to avoid deportation

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NORWALK —  Nury Chavarria is in New Haven and will be seeking asylum inside Iglesias De Dios Pentecostal Church.

Chavarria, mother of four, was set to be deported Thursday night. Chavarria learned Wednesday that she wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the U.S., despite having lived here for the past 24 years.

Chavarria hasn’t been back to her home country of Guatemala since she first came to the United States back in 1993. She applied for asylum but was denied, and then began regular check-ins with ICE in the past few years. Chavarria said she never qualified for citizenship, but it is something she hopes for in the future.

"If someday I qualify, sure. I would do it ," said Chavarria.

In the meantime, she’s cooperated with ICE ahead of her deportation, wearing an ankle bracelet that's been tracking her every move.

FOX61 asked ICE if enforcement of Chavarria's deportation will be carried while she remains on church property. The department responded with the following statement:

"Current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations unless they have prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or in the event of exigent circumstances. The locations specified in the guidance include schools, places of worship, and hospitals."

Chavarria's youngest daughter, Haley, has been pleading to keep her mom in the U.S., holding up signs and telling anyone who will listen that her mom deserves to stay. The Guatemalan Consulate said they are working on getting ICE to grant her permission to stay in the U.S.

On Thursday, Gov. Malloy visited Chavarria prior to a press conference held outside the church.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, asked federal immigration authorities for a stay of deportation on humanitarian grounds, but that was denied.

Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., said there will be a vigil Sunday, at 6 p.m., outside the church.  She also added that there may also be a procession or event on Wednesday.

What is a sanctuary church and is it legal? 

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