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Guatemalan mother who sought refuge in Manhattan church files petition to stay in U.S.

A Guatemalan mother of three U.S.-born children who

A Guatemalan mother of three U.S.-born children who took refuge in Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights filed a motion to remain temporarily in the United States on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, her lawyer said. Photo Credit: Mark Chiusano

A Guatemalan mother of three U.S. born children who has taken refuge in a Manhattan church to avoid deportation filed a motion to remain temporarily in the United States.

On Monday, Geoff Kagan Trenchard, an immigration attorney representing Amanda Morales Guerra, 33, filed a petition with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials requesting she be allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least a year.

Kagan Trenchard is preparing an asylum bid on Guerra’s behalf and pursuing “other legal avenues” that would allow her to stay indefinitely with her three children, ages 9, 7 and 2.

The family lived previously in Massapequa, but moved into the Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights on Thursday in an effort to avoid a deportation order against Morales.

Churches and schools are regarded as “sensitive locations” that ICE agents generally don’t enter without a special order, according to the agency’s website.

“To anyone that would try to accuse Amanda of being a fugitive or somehow breaking the law, or being a danger to society in any way I challenge you, if you are a parent to look within yourself and really see if you would not make the exact decisions that she has made,” Kagan Trenchard said at a news conference in lower Manhattan.

ICE officers at the agency’s lower Manhattan office took the petition and said they would render a decision within 90-days, Kagan Trenchard said.

The agency was "in receipt of the request and it’s under review," an ICE spokesman said in an e-mail.

Morales has been living in the U.S. without legal status since 2004, when she left Guatemala amid growing gang violence.

Kagan Trenchard said Morales was a passenger in a car accident in 2012 and that she provided her only identification, her Guatemalan passport. Subsequently, she was required to check in regularly with ICE, and last month, she was told to check-in and bring a one-way ticket to Guatemala. Fearing imminent deportation, she sought refuge in the church.


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