GREENSBORO, NC – She’s defying immigration officials and holding her ground. Two weeks after a grandmother was told to leave the Triad - and the country - to return to Guatemala, she's still finding refuge at a local church.
Juana Tabor is still staying at St. Baranabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro. It's still against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy to make arrests at "sensitive locations,” like churches, schools and hospitals.
However, if steps outside the church - she could be arrested.
It’s a story WFMY News 2 first told you two weeks ago - the day Tabor was supposed to be out of the United States. She's lived in the Asheboro area for 24 years after escaping violence in Guatemala, and was in the process of gaining "asylum" status. But, she left to care for her sick daughter, and then came back to the U.S. illegally. However, every year until now, she’s been able to stay under an order of supervision by ICE.
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That order, though, was revoked the last time she showed up to report. Instead she got an ankle bracelet, and an order to leave.
“She says it's very hard, very boring,” said her eldest daughter, Lesvi Molina.
A church: the place you'd usually come to freely and willingly, but now, in a way, is a prison and last resort to Tabor.
“We come and visit her at least twice during the week, and on weekends we come and stay with her almost all day,” said Molina, “Whenever it's time to go it's pretty sad because we know we have to leave her behind, she can't go back home.”
For the two weeks she’s been there, Tabor has been keeping busy by learning to crochet and practicing her English. While she is very happy to have this place to seek sanctuary, it's not ideal.
“The worst case scenario is for this to go on and on and on,” said Molina, “We hope she doesn't have to be in this situation for years.”
Best case scenario? Getting Senator Thom Tillis to help her submit her Stay of Removal to ICE.
“They’ll accept it from him. My mom has tried to submit the same application but they won't accept it from her,” Molina said.
But for now, it's a waiting game.
Supporters and the family hope to meet with Senator Tillis soon. They'll also be calling his office on Thursday to request that she stay.
Since the middle of January through the end of April, the number of ICE arrests of undocumented immigrants is up 38 percent. However, the number of actual deportations is down slightly from this time last year, when President Obama was in office.
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