A Norwalk mother who has lived in the United States for 24 years and refused deportation last week has been granted a stay that will allow her to remain in the country.
Nury Chavarria left her native Guatemala in 1993, when she was 19, and applied for asylum, but her application was denied and she remained in the United States with nothing to go back to at home.
Chavarria, a mother of four, was seeking sanctuary at the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church on East Pearl Street in New Haven last week because immigration officials could not arrest her on church property.
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She told NBC Connecticut when she entered the church seeking sanctuary that she was prepared to stay for months, or even years, but was able to leave on Wednesday.
"Thank you all. God bless you," Chavarria said as people gathered in New Haven Wednesday to celebrate the mother's ability to now walk the streets freely.
She said she's prepared to continue to fight to call the United States home.
Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a statement shortly after the decision.
“Today, reason and compassion have prevailed. There was never a rational justification for Nury Chavarria to have been threatened with deportation and separated from her children, and I applaud this decision by ICE and the court to allow her to continue living and working in the United States with her family," Malloy said.
Since 2011, Chavarria has had yearly check-ins with immigration officials. Each year she was given the approval to remain in the U.S.
Chavarria said she has no criminal record, works as a housekeeper and pays taxes. She believed those factors would allow her to remain in the U.S., despite President Donald Trump's administration’s focus on deportations. All that changed at her June check-in when ICE officials told her she would have to pack up her life and leave in five weeks.
“I told him, 'I’m not a criminal. I’m a mother with four children. They are citizens. USA. I want to stay here to help them and keep my family together,'” she said.
Chavarria's request to stay was denied on July 18 but a motion for her to stay was granted on Wednesday.
The woman's lawyer said there is a path for the mother to become a lawful, permanent resident, but it is a long and complicated one. They said it's part of what kept her from becoming a citizen after all these years.
Chavarria will continue to wear an ankle bracelet that monitors her movements.
NBC Connecticut reached out to ICE for a statement but did not hear back at the time of post.