Immigrant mother seeks sanctuary from deportation in New York City church


Immigrant mother seeks sanctuary from deportation in New York City church

Josh Varlin

3 April 2018

Aura Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant and mother of two, has taken sanctuary in a New York City church to prevent her deportation to Guatemala. She is threatened with deportation despite having reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regularly for the past five years.

Hernandez fled Guatemala to United States in 2005 to escape an abusive relationship. US Customs and Border Protection picked her up shortly after she entered the US and detained her for three days. She charges that she was sexually abused by a Border Patrol officer while in detention before she was released.

Hernandez was issued a final order of removal in 2006, but had no knowledge of the order and did not encounter police or immigration officials until 2013. Then, according to the New York Times, “she was caught in Mamaroneck, N.Y., driving the wrong way down a street that is one-way on Sundays. The police officer, seeing she had no documents, reported her to immigration officials.”

Until February, she reported to ICE regularly without incident. When she was ordered to report to ICE on March 1 with a plane ticket to leave the US, she instead took refuge in a church. ICE now considers her a “fugitive,” according to a spokesperson.

Hernandez cites her desire to keep her family together as the reason she has turned to the New Sanctuary Coalition, which organizes sanctuary for undocumented immigrants in New York City. She has a 10-year-old son, Daniel, and a 15-month-old daughter, Camila, both of whom are US citizens by birth.

If ICE deports Hernandez, she will be forcibly separated from her children. While in the US, Hernandez cleaned houses to provide for her family.


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