AURORA, Colo. — Maria De Jesus Sanchez had hoped she could escape Immigration and Customs Enforcement by staying at a local church.
There was just one big problem. The two local sanctuary churches weren’t prepared to take in another undocumented immigrant.
So Sanchez decided to go to her deportation hearing in Centennial on Wednesday. She feared ICE agents would come to her home and scare her children.
She had hoped a judge would allow her to stay. Instead, she was taken away and sent back to Mexico.
Ever since then, her four children and husband have not heard from her. Late Friday night, they believed she was on an ICE plane headed to Mexico. They were not sure where she’d be taken.
Sanchez’s first run-in with Border Patrol agents took place in 2001 when she tried to cross illegally. In 2012, she was arrested again, this time in Aurora during a traffic stop.
Ever since then, she had been to several hearings and had been allowed to stay. But that changed this year, when immigration laws were tightened.
Sanchez’s attorney Jennifer Kain-Rios said agents did not explain why she would be deported this time.
Sanchez is a mother of four and owned her own house cleaning business. She had sought sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church of Denver.
It’s the church where another immigrant, Jeanette Vizguerra, has been staying for two months. Vizguerra said it broke her heart when Sanchez came to her asking for help.
The pastor at First Unitarian said his church was not prepared to take in Sanchez. Rev. Mike Morran spent several days this week trying to find another church that would take her.
Morran said more sanctuary space is needed. He said as many as five other churches in the Denver metro area are hoping to become sanctuaries soon.
Morran expects many other undocumented immigrants will be looking for help.