Guatemalan woman seeking refuge shares her sanctuary experience

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A Guatemalan woman seeking refuge inside a church in Charlottesville is speaking out about her experience in sanctuary.

Maria Chavalan Sut said she faced obstacles when she was trying to come to the United States. It's a battle her family endured.

"At immigration, when I went to present myself in January 2018, they told me that I had a deportation order," said Sut. "I didn't know."

Through visits with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sut was given an order to go back to Guatemala by the end of September 2018, a reality to which she couldn't endure returning.

"I told them that my situation isn't getting better and I felt bad because a lot of things that have happened in my life," she said. "They told me an option was to go to jail with ICE, but I prefer to be here in the House of God, not in jail."

Instead, Sut found sanctuary at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, a place she said she feels blessed to be at.

"It's true I can't go out into the streets, but I feel good and blessed," said Sut.

She said she passes the time by cooking, praying and interacting with the church community.

"I make bags, I knit a little bit, and I like to read motivational themes," she said.

The biggest motivation for Sut is the community she said is supporting her through prayer and help.

"I have a lot of people supporting me," she said. "A lot of people are accompanying me."

Sut left her four kids in Guatemala, but her biggest wish is to have them in the United States with her.

"To stay here and at the same time, have my kids with me," said Sut. "That's my big wish."

Alina Kilpatrck, Sut's attorney, said they sent an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals for her asylum case.

No action has been taken on the appeal yet.




 
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