Honduran immigrant takes refuge in Philly church to avoid deportation

(Photo: YouTube/Nsm Philly)Angela Navarro

A Honduran immigrant has received asylum in a Philadelphia church as she tries to avoid deportation.

Angela Navarro entered the United States illegally in 2003 when she tried to join her parents. She has been hiding from authorities ever since.

The 28-year-old hopes that President Obama's initiatives to halt deportation and provide increased rights to immigrants will allow her to stay in the country permanently with her parents, husband, and two children.

The Associated Press reported that about a dozen immigrants who are in the country illegally have taken shelter in churches, where Immigration and Naturalization officials generally do not pursue them.

Navarro and her family began living at West Kensington Ministry on November 18 while her supporters petitioned Philadelphia's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to allow her to stay. Rep. Bob Brady also wrote a letter supporting Navarro's cause.

ICE officials released a statement saying that their agency "remains focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritises the removal of convicted criminals and recent border entrants," neither of which includes Navarro.

West Kensington Ministry belongs to the Sanctuary 2014 coalition of churches that takes in immigrants. Church leader Adan Mairena said that helping families like the Navarros is a way for them to "act out" their faith.

Until her case is resolved, Navarro's nine-year-old and 11-year-old children continue to attend school, and her husband works as a truck driver. Both her husband and children are US citizens.

Speaking through an interpreter, Navarro described the stress of living in fear of deportation.

"The hardest part has been leaving my life behind," she explained. "Leaving my house, my job, the inability to do normal family things, like going out for a walk or going shopping."

Although the family of four lives in a small spare room at the church, youngest child Mariana is grateful that her mother is with them.

"I'm happy here," Mariana said. "Now, every day I can always see her."