Mother denied appeal to reopen asylum case after spending 6 months in sanctuary inside Utah church

File: Vicky Chavez speaks to Fox 13 News in March of 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — A mother who has spent six months in sanctuary in a Utah church has been denied her appeal to reopen her asylum case, according to a press release issued Monday.

Vicky Chavez has been staying in the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City for about six months after seeking sanctuary back in January in the face of deportation to Honduras. 

According to a press release issued Monday by Unidad Inmigrante, Chavez sought sanctuary earlier in the year because her asylum case was denied. Chavez appealed to reopen that asylum case, and now about six months later that appeal has been denied.

Supporters say while the appeal to re-open the case has been denied, they are still more steps to be taken in their efforts to keep Chavez in the United States.

The family intends to seek recourse, advocate Easton Smith stated in a press release.

“Since Vicky and her family have arrived to the United States, they have been doing everything correctly, but the system continues to fail them again and again,”
Advocate Easton Smith stated. “After waiting 6 months for her asylum case to be reopened, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied that request and now, Vicky will be appealing to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to try to reverse the decision made by the BIA.”

Chavez plans to wait out her case in the safety of sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church, according to the release. Chavez and her supporters plan to detail her next steps in a press conference scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m.

File: Vicky Chavez and family.

“I’ve learned to be positive,” Chavez stated in the press release. “I have faith that I will be able to leave the church and wait for my response from the board without fear of being arrested. I want to be able to live a normal life, where my daughter will be able to return to school, and I will be able to visit my family whenever I’d like.”

Chavez says she came to the United States in 2014 after fleeing Honduras due to economic and social upheaval.

“I came to the U.S. fleeing domestic violence, rape, and being persecuted by my daughter’s father,” Chavez said back in January. “Coming to the United States meant safety from a man who suggested that he knows people who could harm my family.”

Chavez is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but has found sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church. 

No law prevents federal agents from storming the church, but they do have a policy that protects sensitive locations.

To donate to the Vicky Chavez Legal Defence Fund, click here.

Note: A previous version of this story stated Chavez had been denied asylum Monday, but Unidad Inmigrante corrected that information later Monday to state Chavez’s appeal to reopen her asylum case has been denied.