On Tuesday October 17, Ingrid Encalada Latorre – a mother of two who spent five months in sanctuary at the Denver Quaker Meeting – returned to sanctuary.
“Until last night, I truly believed I had made peace with the difficult decision to be deported to Peru, taking my two sons with me and splitting our family,” said Latorre. “I was too tired to keep fighting and to face the long term prospects of sanctuary. I was hopeful I’d find a way to start my life over again. But then, last Thursday, reality started to hit. Bryant, my older son, begged me not to go, not to force him to leave our home and his school. My aunt, recently returned from Peru, shared with me the devastating poverty Peru is facing in the aftermath of Venezuela’s economic crisis. It may seem like a small thing, but Anibal has a bad cold and there’s no health clinic where my family lives in Peru. I decided, I have to be strong for my family. I have to do what’s best for my children. I have to fight for them and for my community.”
‘Is it moral to separate mothers from children, husbands from wives, for lacking a piece of paper?’
Originally from Peru, Ingrid emigrated to the U.S. in 2000 to pursue a better education and to reunite with her citizen aunt who is a second mother to her. She has two children, Anibal and Bryant, who are both U.S. citizens. Facing possible deportation, she claimed sanctuary at the Mountainview Friends Meeting in November of 2016 and was granted a stay of deportation in May. But after a judge ruled not to reopen her case and Colorado Governor Hickenlooper refused to grant her a pardon, Latorre was left with no more options to keep her family whole.
Communities across the state have mobilized in support of Latorre, offering sanctuary, signing petitions, holding rallies and vigils, and even fasting alongside her at the governor’s office. “I know this decision and this struggle have been agonizing for Ingrid at times,” said Jennifer Piper, Director of Interfaith Organizing for the American Friends Service Committee in Denver. “Our immigration policies trap families across the country, leaving them with only bad options: comply with deportation away from all you’ve built, hide, or stay and struggle for justice. Our faith calls us to ask, ‘Is it moral to separate mothers from children, husbands from wives, for lacking a piece of paper?’ Our faiths are clear that the answer is ‘no’ and we must stand with Ingrid, and all community members fighting for dignity.”
After emigrating to the US, Ingrid began working at a nursing home, where she worked her way up from a dishwasher to a cook and started a family. In 2010, she was arrested at work for charges of using false documents. Facing these charges, her lawyer then did not advise her properly of the immigration consequences of a plea bargain. Based on his advice she accepted the plea bargain, making relief from deportation almost impossible.
Latorre completed four and a half years of probation, paid $11,500 in taxes and restitution, and spent over $30,000 fighting her deportation order through the courts. She became aware of the impact of the poor legal advice she received when, in the spring of 2016, an immigration judge explained the decision to deny her cancellation of removal as being driven by the plea decision. She immediately sought a second legal opinion, but everything was happening too fast to immediately halt her deportation. In November of 2016 she entered Sanctuary at Mountain View Friends Meeting.
While a Jefferson County judge found her credible in her hearings, he ruled to not reopen her case, finding the law at the time was not clear enough for the inadequate legal advice she received to have changed the outcome of the case. She and her supporters asked Governor Hickenlooper for mercy. With only a week and a half to review her case, the Governor denied the pardon one day before her set deportation date. Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted Ingrid a month to ready for deportation, during which time the campaign to reach the Governor continued.