Sunlight for immigrant after two months in sanctuary [photos]

    Beams of pale winter sun lit up a smile on Angela Navarro’s face. This happened the moment she stepped out the door of her sanctuary at West Kensington Ministry on the 2100 block of North Hancock Street.

    For Navarro and her family, and the people who supported her over the past two months, this was an important moment. And the warmth of the winter sun made it even better.

    Last week Navarro, an undocumented mother of two U.S. citizen children, won a case that dismissed her final deportation order, something she has been living with for the past 11 years.

    Navarro spent 61 days in sanctuary in the church at Norris Square, an action organized by New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia. Nationwide there were seven other immigrants with final deportation orders who took sanctuary.

    On Saturday, it was standing room only in the small church in Kensington. After an hour-long multilingual indoor program with prayer, songs and words of gratitude, Navarro walked out into the square across the street, where supporters held a rally.

    Before leaving the church, Navarro answered questions from the press. When asked about the future, Navarro said she is taking it one step at the time.

    People in the same situation shouldn’t be afraid to mobilize and to fight, she said, explaining that many are reluctant to come out of the shadows for fear of being deported. She added that people in similar situations should seek the support of their communities, as she did.

    She also said she wanted critics to know they should be compassionate toward immigrants in her situation. “We come not to harm but to seek a better life.”

    The author of this report is living and working in the United States as a permanent resident on a green card, married to a U.S. citizen with whom he has a U.S.-born son. Angela Navarro speaks Spanish. All conversations with her happened through interpreters.

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