Honduran woman fearing deportation given sanctuary in church

June 21, 2018 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Honduran woman who says she’s facing deportation has taken sanctuary in a Virginia church.

Abbie Arevalo-Herrera came to the U.S. in 2014 and has sought asylum based on what she says are death threats against her by the father of her oldest child.

Her case has been advancing through the courts, but this week she reported receiving a call telling her she would be deported to Honduras.

Immigrant advocates said at a news conference Wednesday that they believe her deportation order stems from a recent ruling from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that asylum seekers can no longer cite domestic abuse and gang violence as reasons to gain entry into the U.S.


Arevalo-Herrera is staying at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Richmond while she appeals.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Rev. Jeanne Pupke, senior minister of the church, told a crowd of more than 100 people who turned out to support Arevalo-Herrera that the church will stand by her and her children to fight what she called “immoral” and “inhumane” immigration laws.

“We will not allow them to destroy families,” she said. “We are going to kick up a fuss that Mr. Sessions cannot ignore.”

Arevalo-Herrera, who is married to a legal permanent resident and has a 2-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen, said she is grateful for the support.

“I don’t want to be taken away from my family,” she said through a translator.

“I feel this is an injustice and this is ... stepping on my human rights.”

Lana Heath de Martinez, Welcoming All Coordinator for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said Arevalo-Herrera continues to receive death threats from the father of her older child. She said she could not provide any details, and other specifics of her immigration case were not immediately disclosed.