DENVER – A Peruvian woman has sought sanctuary for a second time in Colorado rather than board a Tuesday flight to her native country as ordered by U.S. immigration authorities, supporters said.
The American Friends Service Committee said Ingrid Encalada Latorre, 33, sought refuge at Foothills Unitarian Church in the northern Colorado city of Fort Collins. She had been scheduled to board a flight with her two U.S.-born children, ages 1 and 9, ultimately bound for her hometown of Cusco, Peru.
Jennifer Piper of the Service Committee said Latorre had a last-minute change of heart about taking her children, especially her older son Bryant, from the only home they'd known. Latorre's supporters contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the decision, Piper said.
ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said Latorre "is currently an ICE fugitive" because she failed to leave the U.S. after a federal immigration judge granted her voluntary departure. He refused to comment on any future enforcement action while noting that ICE policy directs agents to avoid enforcement activities at houses of worship, schools and hospitals without approval from supervisors or in emergency situations.
Latorre entered the U.S. in 2002. She first sought sanctuary at a Quaker meeting house in Denver between November 2016 and May to avoid deportation for a 2010 conviction for possessing falsified or stolen identification papers.
That deportation order was put on hold so she could appeal her conviction. A judge denied that appeal, and Gov. John Hickenlooper subsequently refused to issue Latorre a pardon.
ICE then granted Latorre a 30-day stay, ending Tuesday, to leave the country. The agency paid for Latorre's ticket to Peru, while Latorre purchased tickets for her children, Piper said.
"I appreciate how much the federal authorities have worked with Ingrid," Piper said. "At this point it's about the terrible laws we have. But for immigration enforcement, that's their job as an agency."
Latorre was unavailable for interviews Tuesday. She sought refuge in Fort Collins because one Denver-area sanctuary congregation has taken in a Salvadoran immigrant, Araceli Velasquez, while other facilities were being remodeled, Piper said.
The Rev. Gretchen Haley, senior minister at Foothills Unitarian Church, said her congregation voted in August to become a sanctuary for those seeking deportation.
"We know what the moral and right thing to do is," Haley said. "I'm so grateful we were ready and we could do this."