A Connecticut mother of four who has lived in the United States for 24 years and faces deportation is holed up in a church, refusing to leave without a fight.
Nury Chavarria wouldn’t board a plane back to her native Guatemala, which she left in 1993, when she was 19. She’s currently at the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal church in New Haven seeking sanctuary.
“My kids need me," she said. "I left my country when I was 19 years old. I have nothing in my country."
Chavarria’s young daughter, Gabriella, made a plea to the leaders of the U.S. on Thursday.
“She is not a criminal and has a positive attitude about everything," Gabriella said. "I want her to stay because I love her so much."
Chavarria applied for asylum in the U.S., but her application was denied. She’s remained here ever since.
All of Chavarria’s children are American, including a son with special needs. She has worked as a housekeeper to provide for her family.
During her last yearly check-in, federal immigration agents told her she had five weeks to go back to Guatemala. An ankle monitor was placed on her.
Chavarria said she has no criminal record, works as a housekeeper, and pays taxes. She believed those factors would allow her to remain in the U.S., despite President Donald Trump's administration’s focus on deportations. All that changed at her June check-in, when ICE officials told her in five weeks she would have to pack up her life and leave.
“I told him I’m not a criminal. I’m a mother with four children," she said. "They are citizens. USA. I want to stay here to help them and keep my family together."
ICE issued Chavarria an ankle-monitor to track her movements ahead of her removal.
New Haven attorney Glenn Formica and volunteer activist group Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible have taken on Chavarria's case.
Formica says there is nothing for her in Guatemala.
“Nury's dilemma is whether she leaves her four children, her four U.S. citizen children and goes back to Guatemala alone, leaving the children to be wards of the state. Or whether she takes them to abject poverty in a place that they know nothing about, have no cultural reference to," Formica said.
At the church in New Haven, Chavarria was met with support from the community and the state’s governor, Dannel Malloy, who feels Americans are being misled about President Trump’s new immigration policy.
"I understand that she was identified as someone here improperly, but when told to response on a yearly basis, I have not been able to find anything criminal in her background," Malloy said. "I want to help her and I want to help all four children and her mother to be able to live a good life here in the United States."
In a statement to NBC 4 New York, ICE said, “Chavarria was allowed to voluntarily depart by a federal immigration judge in 1998, and failed to comply, rendering her subject to final order of removal in 1999. In 2010, the agency deferred her removal for one year on humanitarian grounds.
“As a current exercise of discretion, the agency has allowed her to remain free from custody while finalizing her timely departure plans."
Chavarria's request to stay was denied Tuesday.