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Cambridge Church Protects Undocumented Immigrant From Deportation

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) - A Cambridge church has become the first in Massachusetts to provide sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant trying to prevent her deportation.

The unidentified 26-year-old woman and her two young daughters moved into the University Lutheran Church on Sunday and will be given sanctuary indefinitely while she fights her legal case.

"As a person of faith we are called to stand with the vulnerable," said Pastor Kathleen O'Keefe Reed.

University Lutheran Church
University Lutheran Church in Cambridge (WBZ-TV)

The sanctuary movement in Massachusetts has been growing in the last several months and now includes eight churches.

The woman was arrested at the Mexican border after she says she was forcibly taken into the United States from Ecuador back in 2012. She says she is now fearful to return and does not want to be separated from her daughters who are eight months old and two years old and born in the United States.

Cambridge church
University Lutheran Church in Cambridge (WBZ-TV)

"Immigration laws are unjust," said Nestor Pimienta, a recent graduate of the Harvard University Divinity School. "She feels calm and has peace of mind being within this sacred space."

It's a line immigration agents have not crossed. The woman remains confined, by choice, with no travel outside. She is the first to ask for sanctuary with a compelling story that moved this faith community.

"She came to us and we saw an opportunity to help, fight for her and save her status," said Janine Carreiro-Young of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports

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