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24 Hours Inside a Church Sanctuary with Woman Facing Deportation

CARBONDALE, Colo. - More than three months ago a woman from Western Colorado took sanctuary inside a church in Carbondale due to fears of being deported. Now nearly four months later she is still there, still fighting for her freedom.

"Very hard for me to always stay inside the house, because that is not a life for me," said Sandra Lopez, the woman facing deportation.

Lopez has taken sanctuary inside the Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist church property with her 2-year-old daughter Areli. 

"Sometimes I want to go outside, I look at people out the window while they are working, I am jealous of those people, because they are free," said Lopez.

However she can't leave now, due to fears of being deported.

"They can come for me, ICE, so that's why, I'm very afraid for that," said Lopez.

So to pass time, Lopez plays with her daughter and others around the house.

"I'll play with Areli, I'll play with the dog Scrappy," said Lopez.

Those that are familiar with the situation notice the internal struggle Lopez deals with while stuck inside.

"She can't go to the grocery store, if her daughter needs medicine she has to have someone go get it for her, it must be really hard," said Bonnie Draina, a neighbor to the sanctuary.

Back inside in the house, signs on the front door show a whole process to follow when someone knocks.

"We don't want them to open the door and not verify there is a warrant there, so we really want people to make sure they are paying attention to this," said Reverend Shawna Foster.

Foster decided to open her church doors for sanctuary all based off religious freedom.

"We really want to see the same pluralism in society that we have in our tradition and that means keeping our community together of people who are from many different origins," said Foster.

Smith Immigration has been handling Lopez's case, and one of her attorney's Liam Devlin addressed some of the negative feedback she has got.

"Generally, my response would be that this case has context to it," said Devlin.

That context according to Devlin would be Lopez has no criminal record, left Mexico due violence concerns, and wanting better opportunities.

"People wanting to comment on Sandra being here, I think it would be good for them to try and put themselves in Sandra's shoes," said Devlin.

Lopez likes to stay busy by cleaning the house, but misses her own home.

"I miss my home too much, I miss absolutely everything, because it's my house," said Lopez.

She also spends time cooking, all while hoping for change.

"We need immigration reform, because the system is absolutely broke, that is not liberty for anyone," said Lopez. "Yes I want to be free, that's all I want to be free, I want freedom for me and my children."

Lopez's attorneys also say now Lopez originally faced deportation because one of her sons called 911 and hung up, so she was charged but that case was eventually dropped.

They also say they are still fighting the deportation decision trying to get a "stay of removal" which is a postponement of deportation, but have no timeframe on how long that might take.







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