Another Denver undocumented mother in sanctuary at area church; sanctuary network aims to expand

DENVER – Jeanette Vizguerra made national headlines Wednesday when she sought sanctuary at a Denver church after finding out she’d be deported. But another Denver woman in a similar situation has been in sanctuary at a different area church since last fall.

Ingrid Encalada LaTorre, 33, has been living at the Mountain View Quaker meeting house in Denver since the end of November.

She sought sanctuary at the church after learning she could be deported last fall. The mother of two, from Peru, used false papers to work at an area nursing home.

LaTorre requested a deportation stay Nov. 24 with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) but still hasn’t received one.

“I am doing this to not only stop my own deportation, but also to raise awareness that there are thousands of others like me – people whose only offense was to work and pay into the social safety net, and whose only desire is to live safely with our families,” LaTorre told Denver7 last year.

Like Vizguerra, LaTorre has children who were born in the U.S. and are American citizens.

And Mountain View is one of nine churches statewide currently participating in a sanctuary network, though officials hope to eventually increase that number to about 60.

“We’re mostly feeling to respond to the human situations of families being broken up, parents with citizen children, and are in general a recognition of the very positive role that immigration plays in our nation’s history,” said Eric Wright, an activist working to expand the sanctuary network.

The Washington Post reports that the nationwide sanctuary network has expanded to about 800 participating churches and community centers over the past year.

Since President Donald Trump issued an executive order aiming to deport some of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. illegally last month, ICE agents have arrested hundreds of people nationwide -- some of whom have committed minor offenses, like Vizguerra and LaTorre, but others without criminal records.

LaTorre says she is staying in sanctuary for her family’s sake.

“We cannot stand idly by and let our government threaten the integrity of families,” a spokesman for Mountain View, David Poundstone, told Denver7. “We feel called upon to engage in civil initiative to invoke the tradition of sanctuary to protect those under threat of harm.”

Vizguerra’s attorney, Hans Meyer, and staffers from Rep. Diana DeGette’s office visited with her at First Unitarian Thursday. 

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