NEW YORK, Religious leaders in New York expressed on Thursday solidarity with immigrants facing deportation at a Holy Week ceremony in which they washed the feet of several undocumented migrants, including a Guatemalan woman who took refuge in a church to avoid deportation.

Manhattan’s nondenominational Fourth Universalist Society on Thursday was declared a sanctuary for migrants, joining other churches that have become refuges for undocumented residents facing deportation.

Aura Hernandez, a 37-year-old Guatemalan woman with two children � Daniel, 10, and Camila, 15 months � could not hold back her tears when she spoke about the deportation order that would separate her from her kids and send her back to her homeland where, she said, she would have to deal with gang violence and could be killed.

She said at the ceremony � in which clergy of different denomination participated � that she was supposed to turn herself in to be deported on March 1.

Instead of that, Hernandez � who came to the US in 2005 � opted to request asylum from the New Sanctuary Coalition NYT.

At the ceremony, she was welcomed with applause and the phrase You’re not alone by a number of the immigrants and church members, including Mexican undocumented activist Jeanette Vizguerra, who was selected by TIME magazine as one the most influential people of 2017.

Hernandez said that she is not the only Latina who is facing deportation. It doesn’t matter what country (you’re from), we’re together in this and I’m not going to stay silent any longer. Nobody should do that. Defend your rights but above all those of your children, she said.

Hernandez was first taken in two weeks ago at another sanctuary church, also in Manhattan, but last Sunday she was moved to the Fourth Universalist Society, which will now be home to her and her daughter for the indefinite future. Her son lives with his father, also undocumented, and will spend weekends with her.

More than 100 undocumented migrants being housed in different sanctuaries around the US after the Donald Trump administration increased enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants.

Source: Nam News Network