Mother seeks sanctuary from deportation in Denver church

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 17:35:02-05

Ingrid Latorre knows she broke the law, and she feels she’s paid the price for it. Yet the government is coming after her again.

So the mother of two has sought sanctuary inside a Denver church, where she has been holed up for 11 days. She doesn’t want to be deported back to Peru and separated from her two young children, who were born in the United States.

Dream to come to America

Ingrid Encalada Latorre came to Denver in 2000, when she was 17. Two years later, she bought “papers” — fake documents with another person’s Social Security number that allowed her to work. Using that number, she worked at an assisted-living center for several years.

But in 2010, the deception caught up to her. She was arrested for using a false identity and for not paying taxes.

Latorre fought her case in court and, at the advice of her lawyer, pleaded guilty to a felony. The admission kept her out of jail. She says she paid back the $12,000 in taxes that she owed.

That wasn’t, however, the end of her legal troubles. A felony conviction for an immigrant means deportation. And the clock on that was ticking down.

So Latorre turned to the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, which helps immigrants who are facing deportation. It granted her sanctuary inside the Mountain View Friends Meeting church.

That’s where she’s been since November 28. She’s filed a stay of deportation application with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Washington, and if it’s approved, it’ll give her an avenue to open up her case and try to clear her conviction.

“When I was a little girl, my aunt had immigrated to the United States and she told me stories about this country and the opportunities here. It became my dream to come to America,” Latorre told CNN through an interpreter.

CNN has contacted ICE for comment and has not heard back.

Fear of deportation

The Mountain View Friends Meeting is a Quaker church in northeast Denver.

Latorre stays there with her 1-year-old son; her older son lives with her US-born partner and attends elementary school

During the day, Latorre uses the church kitchen to make tamales that are sold to help with her legal fees. She also does physical therapy with her baby, who has torticollis, a muscular condition.

“I know I broke the law. I used someone else’s paperwork to support myself,” she said. “But I already paid the consequences for that decision. If the government would focus on ways to incorporate us into society, we wouldn’t be in these difficult situations.”:

Jennifer Piper, the interfaith organizer at the American Friends Service Committee, said the church is willing to offer Latorre sanctuary until the issue is resolved and she can leave the church without fear of being deported.

Latorre said if she were deported, she would leave her family here so the boys could have better opportunities.

“In my country, my children would not have access to good education and that would hurt their futures,” she said.