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Philly Pastor Providing Sanctuary To Mother, Children Gets Federal Attention

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia pastor providing sanctuary to a family fighting deportation presented a petition asking federal officials to reconsider their expulsion order.

Rev. Renee McKenzie, vicar of the Church of the Advocate, led a small delegation Tuesday into the Philadelphia Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

She says security personnel blocked them in the lobby.

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But, McKenzie says after they were blocked she asked everyone to bow in prayer, and the mood changed. Within minutes, an ICE representative appeared and agreed to accept her petition seeking a stay of a deportation order for Carmela Apolonia-Hernandez and her four children.

"I think that we made our point," McKenzie said. "I think that we showed that we were present and that we're supporting Carmella and as she faces deportation, yes."

When asked if she believes if the Apolonia-Hernandez family will be granted a stay, McKenzie responded, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe that, right? So, yes, I believe that."

A lawyer representing the family says ICE officials who met with him Tuesday are willing to review the matter, but need more information about Apolonia-Hernandez and her background.

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