A Norwalk mother is explaining her decision to defy a deportation order and find sanctuary inside a New Haven Church.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE described Nury Chavarria as a “fugitive” for not boarding a flight to Guatemala on Thursday.
“I’m not a fugitive. I’m not,” Chavarria said.
Chavarria came to the US in 1993 and has attended yearly check-in meetings with immigration officials since 2011. Each year she was given the approval to remain in the US, until this June, when ICE officials ordered her deportation.
Since Thursday, Chavarria has found refuge in the Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal on East Pearl Street.
She’s preparing for the reality it could be weeks or months or even longer before she might be able to leave.
“I’m fine here. I feel safe,” Chavarria said.
On Saturday she was visited by several of her children.
“I don’t know how to describe it but it’s a little bit scary,” Hayley Chavarria, Nury’s 9-year-old daughter, said. “I really want her to come back home.”
Chavarria says all she wanted was to stay close to her four children.
“I’m scared to be in more big trouble, in big trouble. But at the last moment I decide to stay here in this church,” Chavarria said.
Chavarria – who still wears her ankle bracelet - is grateful for her supporters.
That includes recent visits by Governor Dan Malloy and members of the congressional delegation.
Now she hopes ICE agents change their mind and allow her to stay in the country she’s lived in for the past 24 years.
“I’m not a criminal. I’m not a criminal. They need to look for them, not good people,” Chavarria said.
Previously federal immigration officers told us they would not raid a church and arrest people.
A vigil is planned for Chavarria outside the church at 7 p.m. on Sunday.