Utah: Honduran Family Celebrates Christmas Inside Church While Facing Deportation
Elevate Christian Network :: News and Events
Vicky Chavez does want to give her daughters, Yaretzi and 17-month-old Bella, the closest thing to a Christmas that she can this year. It’s a challenge when they’re stuck inside a church.
She and the girls came to live here at the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City nearly a year ago, facing deportation and seeking sanctuary. Chavez had three plane tickets for Honduras but changed her mind before the final boarding call, fleeing to these red bricks and this towering steeple.
How the Church Helped Chavez and Children
The congregation converted a Sunday school classroom on the second floor into a tiny apartment, and Chavez hasn’t gone outside since. She can’t.
This will be the family’s first December living above the chapel on busy 1300 South, hiding from officials tasked with carrying out President Donald Trump’s orders to repeal protections and deport immigrants like them. It’s a Christmas confined.
Chavez is willing do anything she can to make this year special for her girls. She hands Bella a little cookie from the box to decorate, and the toddler shoves it in her mouth.
Federal Judge Orders Removal from United States
Two years ago this month, a federal judge first ordered Chavez’s removal from the country. She was pregnant with Bella at the time and getting ready for Yaretzi’s sixth Christmas, their second in the United States.
After she fled to the United States in 2014, Chavez gained a small bit of protection under an executive action signed by then-President Barack Obama that said immigrants who committed no crimes and paid taxes wouldn’t be prioritized for deportation. Trump reversed that rule in 2017, and the proceedings for Chavez’s deportation began.
NBC News has learned that the Trump administration is planning a new policy that could limit legal immigration by making it harder for immigrants to obtain green cards and citizenship if they’ve used public welfare programs.