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Woman seeking sanctuary in Unitarian church says she is trying to protect her children

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SALT LAKE CITY— A Utah mother who has been seeking sanctuary from deportation in a Unitarian church has broken her silence, saying she is trying to protect her children.

Vicky Chavez was facing deportation and almost boarded a plane to Honduras on January 31. Instead, she made a last-minute decision to fight to stay in the country.

"We were running a risk to go and I chose for the safety of my kids to find help and seek sanctuary," Chavez said Friday, nine days after she and her two children took up residence in the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City.

"I miss being able to be with my family and staying with my mom," Chavez said through a translator. "I miss that the most."

Chavez said she fled Honduras to escape the violence she faced at home, seeking asylum status in the U.S.

Amy Dominguez, of Unidad Inmigrante, said Chavez has gone through the process legally, but the system failed her.

"She came into the United States, she was processed by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and released by ICE to pursue an asylum case," Dominguez said. "We are here at this point years later and $15,000 down, paying legal fees and things like that, and things have still not changed. For people to say, 'Well why doesn't she do things the “legal way” — she is doing things the legal way. This is just the way that the immigration system is broken."

More on Vicky Chavez's story:

Chavez said she was uncertain of the legal status of the case but was hopeful she might have an update soon — potentially as early as next week.

"I have faith we'll get out soon," Chavez said. "I will be staying here however long that takes."


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