2 Illegal Immigrants Can Stay — For Now, More Churches Offering Sanctuary

DENVER (CBS4) – Two illegal immigrants at the center of a deportation battle are allowed to stay in Colorado — for now.

Jeanette Vizguerra left a church in Denver Thursday where she’d been staying with her family for months. She was flagged to be deported, but an act of Congress allows her to stay until March of 2019.

Arturo Hernandez Garcia received the same deal. He too spent time living in the same church.

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Arturo Hernandez Garcia, left, Jeanette Vizguerra, right (credit CBS)

More churches are going to start offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants.

When Vizguerra needed new sanctuary, Rev. Brian Henderson says his church was a natural home.

“One of the things that we’re realizing is that truthfully to be welcoming and affirming we need to be welcoming and affirming to everyone,” Henderson said.

jeanette vizguerra1 2 Illegal Immigrants Can Stay    For Now, More Churches Offering Sanctuary

Jeanette Vizguerra (credit CBS)

Henderson says his congregation was looking for ways to help after Homeland Security changed deportation policies to include undocumented residents with any criminal charge. The First Baptist Church just across the street from the state Capitol is now the third in the state giving sanctuary to immigrants they say face unjust deportations.

“The movement is growing and people are becoming interested and engaged.” Henderson said.

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Jeanette Vizguerra (credit CBS)

Eight churches have now part of what’s called the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition where three churches are offering physical sanctuary and more are considering joining.

“Immigrant communities are living in fear for their own safety and as a faith community that is committed to justice every way we can, this was the right thing for us to do,” Henderson said.

Support in Henderson’s church was not unanimous, but he says the consensus was overwhelming. He doesn’t expect all churches to follow his lead and is prepared to answer their criticisms.

arturo hernandez garcia 2 Illegal Immigrants Can Stay    For Now, More Churches Offering Sanctuary

Arturo Hernandez Garcia (credit: CBS)

“We are doing our best to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly,” he said.

A spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told CBS4 Vizguerra and Hernandez Garcia were granted stays because lawmakers had introduced private bills naming them and had requested investigations.

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