Things That Matter

A Colorado Church Has Provided Sanctuary To This Woman And Now She Just Gave Birth There To Avoid ICE

The humanitarian crisis product of the influx of undocumented migrants to the United States and the Trump administration’s tough policies and law enforcement techniques have resulted in stories of survival that are almost hard to believe. ICE raids all over the country have torn communities and families apart. But for all the bigotry there are some stories that reveal that there are still some good people out there and that human kindness and perseverance count for something. 

The recent tribulation of a 36-year-old Peruvian woman is one of such cases. 

Ingrid Encalada Latorre gave birth to a baby girl at a church in Boulder, Colorado

Credit: Twitter. @UUSC

She has been living at the Unitarian Universalist Church since 2017 with her two sons, after she moved from another religious site. Places of worship have a de facto status as a sanctuary and there is an unwritten agreement between law enforcers and religious organizations that dictates that once in a sacred building, migrants and refugees are safe from arrest. She has become an immigrant rights advocate based on her own traumatic experiences.  

The authorities have been persistent in their punitive actions against this outspoken woman.

As U-Wire reported in August, “In July, Encalada Latorre was fined nearly $5,000 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for not leaving the country”. The bill just keeps adding up. And this is an strategy that is increasingly being used by the current administration as U-Wire reported in July: “The Trump administration threatened to impose these fines on immigrants who seek sanctuary in locations where ICE does not conduct enforcement operations, such as churches. Although the penalties are not new, imposing the financial penalties has been rare, according to reporting by the Washington Post”.

Damn. Some migrants have been fined for more than $400,000. Of course, almost no one is able to pay that kind of money. 

Ingrid declined to go to hospital to give birth, and for a very good reason.

She feared that she would become a target for ICE if she left the place of worship. She had a 15-hour natural birth and she delivered her baby with the help of a midwife. Ingrid kept her birthing plans under wraps until the last minute because any information leak could very well put her at risk of deportation.

She told The Daily Beast: “Having a baby is always a light of life. I am excited to have my beautiful baby girl and my two sons, who I love very much. My life continues, and this broken system will not stop my fight to keep my family together.”

She moved into the church after a court appearance where she pleaded guilty.

Her crime: trying to buy a Social Security number so she could work and provide for her kids. She got bad legal advice and pleaded guilty to a felony, which is much worse than the correct category of a misdemeanor. The church has been more than accomodating, and a shower and proper living quarters have been provided for Ingrid and her children. 

The church’s reverend, Eric Posa, is like the coolest man of the robe ever.

Credit: Twitter. @TheLeftRev

Eric Posa has a long history of fighting for the dispossessed and the vulnerable, and his stern defence of Ingrid is proof of that. He told The Daily Beast, which first broke the story: “We talk about the joy of new life at the church, but I’ve got to say, in my career, it’s never been as literally true about new life being added to the church as happened here”.

And Posa also served some truths to the system: “In a system that would tell people that they are less human than those who are native-born citizens—and especially those of us with white skin—and in a system that would actively discourage the rest of us as treating Ingrid and others like her as fully human, she decided not to limit and pare down her life, but to expand her family”.

Some might get judgemental about Ingrid’s decision to have a baby under such circumstances, but bringing life is a way of resisting a bleak future. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about Ingrid’s case to highlight the faults in the system.

Ingrid ended up in this legal mess because she had to resort to a misdemeanor because even though she is part of the community in Colorado, she has lived under the shadows and in fear for too long, just like millions of migrants who are hard working and bring a sense of solidarity to social life in the United States. AOC also visited Ingrid and offered her support as part of a trip to Boulder, where she also spoke at a dinner.  

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