Guatemalan Mother Still Waits for a Second Chance

Amanda Morales-Guerra, with her son David, in Holyrood Church, a month after seeking sanctuary to ask for a solution to her immigration situation. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

When Guatemalan-born Amanda Morales-Guerra decided to take shelter with her three sons in Upper Manhattan’s Holyrood Church on Aug. 17 after immigration authorities asked her to leave the country, she knew that it would be a long struggle. However, she never imagined that being secluded would be so painful.

It has been two months since that afternoon when the immigrant woman left her Long Island house to find sanctuary at the Washington Heights church, which has become her home. As the days go by, ICE seems to have no interest whatsoever in reopening her deportation case. If they do not do so, the Central American woman’s attorneys will not be able to fight a legal battle to obtain permission for Morales to stay in the United States.

“Everything remains the same. There is no news, and ICE has yet to send a written response,” said Rev. Luis Barrios, who leads the parish where Morales is sheltered, referring to the response immigration authorities gave by phone in September, in which they said that the request to reopen the case was denied.

Morales’ attorneys have asked ICE to send their response in writing and, even though a spokesperson for the agency in New York said that they mailed it weeks ago, the attorneys insist that they have not received anything. They added that they will not give up their fight.

“Everything is still the same and, although from the beginning we knew this would be a long struggle, we will not stop supporting Amanda, who is currently caged in a church where she receives spiritual support but in which this president, Donald Trump, has (…) taken away her freedom to share her everyday life with her son and two daughters,” said Council member Ydanis Rodríguez, who has supported Morales’ choice to take shelter.

“To us, it is a great responsibility to fight for Amanda and her three children, who represent the millions of undocumented people in this nation who need a vehicle to normalize their immigration status, and we will not rest until Amanda’s case is reopened so that she and her three kids – who may end up being the doctors, lawyers and engineers of the future – can have the life they deserve,” concluded the council member.

Morales arrived in the U.S. from Guatemala in 2004, escaping threats against her life in her native city. Even though she had been going to periodic appointments at the Federal Plaza immigration building, where ICE offices are located, since 2012 – when she found out that a deportation order against her had been issued – she was informed on Aug. 3 during a routine visit that she had to leave the country in two weeks’ time, a clear sign that the Trump administration had changed immigration policies.

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