City Council members, congressman call on ICE to end deportation order
The evening of Wednesday, Dec. 17, turned cold and blustery as dozens gathered outside the Philadelphia office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Angela Mariana, 9, her brother, Arturo, 11, and their cousins stood bundled, still in their school uniforms. They were waiting to tell an ICE official about their mother and aunt, Angela Navarro, who has been facing a final deportation order for a decade, taking shelter in a local church for a month. But even though the office normally remains open until 4:30 p.m., the doors locked early that day.
Nicole Kligerman of New Sanctuary Movement held Angela Mariana’s hand as they waited with several police officers for an ICE official to meet them on the sidewalk. Instead, an official reached out from around the door and grabbed the packet from Klingerman's hands. Just as soon as he appeared, he was gone.
“He wouldn’t even look a 9-year-old, a U.S. citizen in the face,” Klingerman said.
Inside that packet were letters supporting Navarro and calling for an end to her final deportation order to ICE, signed by some 200 religious leaders and politicians, including 11 City Council members and Congressman Bob Brady. Supporters gathered in a Hanukkah ritual led by Rabbi Linda Holtzman of Tikkun Olam Chavurah congregation in Germantown to light 30 candles, one for each day that Navarro spent in sanctuary.
“We light these candles of Hanukkah, of belief, of hope and determination, that we will keep the flame burning,” Holtzman said.
Navarro came to the U.S. from Honduras when she was just 16 years old, settling in Philadelphia for more than a decade with her family and two, U.S.-born children and husband, Ermer. She was given a final deportation order in 2004 when apprehended at the border, trying to reunite with her parents who have Temporary Protection Status and have been in the U.S. for 16 years. Now, Angela, her husband and children live in what was once a playroom at West Kensington Ministry, a church in Norris Square. Navarro is one of ninth undocumented immigrants in sanctuary from a deportation order throughout the entire country.
“More than 2000 years ago, Joseph and Mary asked for shelter to receive Jesus as a gift from God,” Navarro’s mother Maria Turcios, said through tears. “Today, I ask for the gift of ending my daughter’s deportation order and all deportations.”
Karen Warrington, Communications Director for Congressman Brady, said that Angela is a productive member of the community and the deportation order should be canceled.
“She is a wife, she is a daughter and she is a mother. She should be able to go home to be with her family and continue her life,” Warrington said.
Rafael Álvarez Febo, community relations liaison for Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, held up an envelope containing signatures of support from more than half of the Philadelphia City Council.
“We have a broken system of immigration that we have to fix as a country, but as a city we are not in line with ICE,” Álvarez Febo said, referring to a move by City Council earlier this year to end collaboration with ICE. “We are going to continue doing what we can as a city office to stop these injustices.”
The Philadelphia ICE office released a statement that the agency “fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference.” The statement also cited new guidelines under President Obama to prioritize convicted criminals and “recent border entrants.”