DENVER (CBS4) – A mother in Colorado and immigrant from El Salvador has been living in a church claiming sanctuary for almost 20 months after her request for asylum was denied. For Araceli Velasquez Sunday service is just another part of daily life in her new home.
“First I get up at six o’ clock in the morning, and I send my two sons to school with my husband, and then I make breakfast, and I get up with my youngest who stays with me all day, and I try to come up with things for he and I to do” she said.
The one thing she can’t do? Leave the Park Hill United Methodist Church.
“It’s difficult sometimes because I can’t just take him to the park or go out with him.”
She doesn’t want to go back to El Salvador.
“El Salvador right now is a place that you can’t live because there’s so much violence.”
Sunday the Park Hill United Methodist Church community along with Temple Micah held a march for freedom to advocate for Araceli’s freedom and raise awareness about her plight and that of immigrants in America.
Former pastor and volunteer Peg Newell says, “We’re a very middle class church and don’t really know personally what it’s like to be an immigrant and she has helped us see that.”
Araceli would like to be able to leave without fear of deportation, but for now she says she will do what it takes to be a mother for her kids and the church will do what they can to support her.
“I cannot take my sons to El Salvador right now. In El Salvador, at 13 years old the gangs will kidnap the children. I may be trapped here for now, but at least they have their mother.”
A judge will decide this week if Araceli’s case can be reopened. If so, she may be able to go home with her family.