A Honduran woman living in the U.S. illegally has taken sanctuary in a Chapel Hill church in order to avoid deportation.
Two congregations have partnered to provide Rosa del Carmen Ortez-Cruz sanctuary from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
At a press conference Tuesday, Ortez-Cruz wiped her eyes as religious leaders and supporters of her cause spoke.
“I have four kids and I want to give them a future without fear,” Ortez-Cruz said. “If I go back to Honduras I don’t have enough protection.”
The 37-year-old says her ex-partner almost killed her in Honduras.
Last week, ICE arrested at least 40 people across North Carolina. Jennifer Copeland is Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches.
“Rosa, we are sorry that you cannot be safe without being sheltered here in this place,” Copeland said Tuesday. “But we are honored that you trust us to provide shelter. May God keep you safe, and keep safe those whom you love.”
There are now six churches in North Carolina providing sanctuary for illegal residents trying to avoid deportation.
Copeland said their partners are launching the North Carolina Sanctuary Coalition to provide support for current and future churches who want to join the movement.
“To be honest, our physical space was not ideally set up for sanctuary,” said Mark Davidson, pastor of the Church of Reconciliation. “But we turned an office into a living space and converted a janitor’s closet into a shower. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”