Sandra López, mother of 3 U.S. citizen children, finally went home last week. Sandra entered sanctuary on October 19, 2017, sacrificing her freedom to keep her family together at the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist congregation in Carbondale, Colorado. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled on a case that opened a new route to possible status for Sandra. Her lawyer submitted a motion to reopen and shortly after received written confirmation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Sandra is not a priority for deportation, and López is safe to return home. López announced her homecoming to her supporters on August 21st, with a press conference and march from the parsonage to Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist.
“I’m happy because I get to be with my family and resume some normal everyday life after this tremendous sacrifice,” says López. “I appreciate ICE’s good faith commitment. However, my case is not finished, and I will not be truly safe until federal immigration law changes to allow me to become a permanent resident. I will keep advocating for humane immigration law, and keep standing with my sisters in sanctuary in Colorado – Rosa Sabido, Ingrid Encalada Latorre, and Araceli Velazquez.”
>Jennifer Piper of the American Friends Service Committee reacted to the news: “We are committed to keeping families together and working for policy change. We know Congress has the power and information needed to create the immigration policies we need at the local level. It’s urgent they act to restrict the budgets of ICE and Border Patrol and create a path to status. I’m honored to continue to work with Sandra and others in Sanctuary to win change!”
The four women in Sanctuary in Colorado began working together last October to raise the profile, not only on their individual cases, but about the policy changes necessary to create a path to status for millions of community members.
“Our struggle to pass the People’s Resolution will continue so that no other families have to sacrifice their freedom as we have,” stated Araceli Velasquez, who just marked a year in sanctuary as she looks to reopen her asylum case in the coming weeks. “I have faith that ICE will keep their word and respect their commitment to Sandra, her family and our community. I am so happy for this small victory that is the work of Sandra’s community and the people who support us; we’ve won a battle against the separation of our families today.”
From Mancos United Methodist Church, Rosa Sabido expressed her solidarity. She marked a year in sanctuary in June and suffered the loss of her mother recently. “Today, we are celebrating with Sandra her opportunity to leave Sanctuary and be able to take care of her beloved family. Living in a condition of house arrest creates emotional distress for our families and ourselves, but it’s the safest alternative to keep our families together. I personally would like to thank ICE for committing to not persecute Sandra and showing humanity for her by giving her the freedom to pursue her legal case out of sanctuary as she seeks justice. Our work to bring the People’s Resolution to pass is not over yet. We, all four women, will continue to look for endorsements from state residents and state legislators. Our ultimate goal is to create a path through immigration reform that will benefit millions of immigrants from all over the world. #Sandrastays!”
“I send Sandra my deepest wishes for happiness and respect for her role in fighting her case and co-leading on the People’s Resolution. The fight continues for her and all of us!” shared Ingrid Encalada Latorre, in sanctuary at Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder.
“Sandra is leaving the Sanctuary of our congregation and goes into the larger sanctuary of our community,” said Rev. Shawna Foster, minister of Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist. “This valley wants to keep families together and is committed to the unity of our neighborhoods by supporting Sanctuary. People here show, over and over, the kind of love that transcends race, religion, place of birth, or the language spoken. Sandra and her family will need this love in the future!”
López’s deportation case is not over, and she continues to seek resolution through the courts.
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