A Guatemalan mother of three U.S.-born children who took refuge in a Manhattan church to avoid deportation has filed a motion to remain temporarily in the United States.
On Monday, Geoff Kagan Trenchard, an immigration attorney representing Amanda Morales Guerra, 33, filed a petition with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials requesting she be allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least for a year.
Kagan Trenchard is preparing an asylum bid on her Guerra’s behalf and pursuing “other legal avenues” that would allow her to stay indefinitely with her three children, ages 9, 7 and 2.
The family lived previously in Massapequa, but moved into the Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights on Thursday in an effort to avoid a deportation order against Morales.
Churches and schools are regarded as “sensitive locations” that ICE agents generally don’t enter without a special order, according to the agency’s website.
“To anyone that would try to accuse Amanda of being a fugitive or somehow breaking the law, or being a danger to society in any way I challenge you, if you are a parent to look within yourself and really see if you would not make the exact decisions that she has made,” Kagan Trenchard at a news conference in lower Manhattan.
Kagan Trenchard said ICE officers at the agency’s lower Manhattan office took the petition and said they would render a decision within 90 days.
A spokesman for the office did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
Morales has been living in the U.S. without legal status since 2004, when she left Guatemala amid growing gang violence.
Kagan Trenchard said Morales was a passenger in a car accident in 2012 and that she provided her only identification, her Guatemalan passport. Subsequently, she was required to check in regularly with ICE, and last month, she was told to check in and bring a one-way ticket to Guatemala, Kagan Trenchard said. Fearing imminent deportation, she sought refuge in the church.