Ingrid Encalada Latorre Returns to Sanctuary; Four Claim Sanctuary in CO

Colorado – On Tuesday afternoon, October 17, 2017, Ingrid Encalada Latorre refused a court order to board a plane with her two children and be deported back to Peru; she instead returned to sanctuary.

Encalada Latorre was originally in sanctuary for six months from December 2016 to May 2017 at the Mountain View Friends Meeting. She left because she was granted a temporary stay of removal until August 7, 2017.

In a press release, Encalada Latorre states:

Until last night, I truly believed I had made peace with the difficult decision to be deported to Peru, taking my two sons with me and splitting our family. I was too tired to keep fighting and to face the long term prospects of sanctuary. I was hopeful I’d find a way to start my life over again. But then, last Thursday, reality started to hit.”

She continues:

Bryant, my older son, begged me not to go, not to force him to leave our home and his school. My aunt, recently returned from Peru, shared with me the devastating poverty Peru is facing in the aftermath of Venezuela’s economic crisis. It may seem like a small thing, but Anibal has a bad cold and there’s no health clinic where my family lives in Peru. I decided, I have to be strong for my family. I have to do what’s best for my children. I have to fight for them and for my community.”

Encalada Latorre was granted a temporary stay of removal on May 20, 2017 until August 7, 2017 in order to allow her to move toward reducing an identity theft-related felony conviction to a misdemeanor, which could have secured her permanent residency in the U.S.

Photo of Ingrid Encalada Latorre and her son Anibal. Photo credit: Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition.

Like millions of other undocumented people in the U.S. who need to support their families, she used papers she had purchased to be able to work. The IRS contacted the person to whom the papers belonged and that person filed a police report.

Fortunately for sanctuary leaders in Colorado like Encalada Latorre, there has been a large supportive community providing crucial resources including the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

According to its website, AFSC is “a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action.”

Jennifer Piper, Director of Interfaith Organizing for AFSC, wrote in an e-mail to Unicorn Riot:

In 1986 [the U.S.] made working, and employing someone, without status illegal. Since that time a healthy black market has developed in false and real social security numbers. Undocumented people buy the papers on the street and those who sell often insist the papers are good for working but do not belong to anyone.”

Piper is referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which requires employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status and made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit undocumented immigrants.

This law has pushed undocumented people to buy papers off the street in order to support themselves and their families.

Only eight years later, in 1994, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican government phased out 900,000 jobs in the countryside and 700,000 jobs in the cities. This dramatic cut in jobs for Mexicans forced nearly 2.3 million subsistence farmers to leave Mexico and migrate to the U.S. and other countries.

According to a fact sheet by AFSC (PDF), “U.S. laws and regulations make it nearly impossible to obtain permanent residency/U.S. citizenship.”

In July of 2007, immigration fees increased by 80%, preventing many immigrants from low-income to moderate-income families from obtaining green cards. Additionally, if an immigrant applying for permanent residency has a family member who is a U.S. citizen, it is even harder to obtain a green card.

Mexican children over 21 whose parents are U.S. citizens can wait up to 16 years to be eligible to submit their applications. Siblings of U.S. citizens from the Philippines can wait more than 20 years.” – AFSC Fact Sheet (PDF)

Photo taken during a rally on March 4, 2016 hosted by Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition.

On April 22, 2010, the police picked up Encalada Latorre at her nursing home job. She eventually agreed to a felony plea deal and completed 4 1/2 years of probation, as well as paying $11,500 in back taxes.

Her lawyer did not advise her that the felony plea, which allowed her to serve probation and pay the fines rather than serve jail time, would prevent her from being able to win her immigration case.

On August 29, 2017, a Jefferson County district judge refused to reopen her case, denying her “post-conviction relief.” The judge ruled that Encalada Latorre had been adequately advised about the risks of entering the plea deal, and the felony charge for criminal impersonation would remain on her record.

After receiving this ruling, Encalada Latorre and her supporters increased their efforts to stave off deportation. A call-out was made to encourage people to contact Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to ask him to pardon her, a fasting campaign was launched, and vigils and rallies were organized across the state.

Governor Hickenlooper denied the pardon request from Encalada Latorre and her supporters on September 14, 2017, but ICE gave her a 30-day stay of deportation to make arrangements before being forced to leave the country she has lived in for almost 20 years.

Ingrid Encalada Latorre and Jennifer Piper at a vigil for Ingrid on October 12, 2017. Photo Credit: Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition.

Encalada Latorre is claiming sanctuary at the Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO with her youngest son Anibal, who is almost two years old.

As she returned to sanctuary this month, she joined three other sanctuary leaders who are claiming sanctuary in Colorado.

These three are Araceli Velasquez, who is in sanctuary at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah in Denver, Rosa Sabido, who is in sanctuary at the Mancos United Methodist Church in Mancos, and Elmer Peña, who is in sanctuary at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church (ASUUC) in Colorado Springs.

Promotional image from American Friends Service Committee for the caravan with all four people claiming sanctuary in Colorado.

AFSC organized a “Sanctuary Caravan in the West,” from October 20 to October 22, 2017, to “bolster support for the four people now in sanctuary in the state. Participants will strategize on ways to advocate for better immigration policies.”

Piper states in the press release about Encalada Latorre:

Our immigration policies trap families across the country, leaving them with only bad options: comply with deportation away from all you’ve built, hide, or stay and struggle for justice. Our faith calls us to ask, ‘Is it moral to separate mothers from children, husbands from wives, for lacking a piece of paper?’ Our faiths are clear that the answer is ‘no’ and we must stand with Ingrid, and all community members fighting for dignity.”

Encalada Latorre is currently consulting with legal counsel and the community to work on the next steps for her and her family, and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

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