A father of three sought sanctuary from deportation in a New Haven church on Thursday after the Board of Immigration Appeals denied his request for an emergency stay of removal Wednesday night.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, had ordered Nelson Pinos-Gonzalez to return to his native Ecuador by noon.
Speaking to reporters through a Spanish interpreter at First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, Pinos says he will live there while he continues his immigration case.
“Tengo la familia…I made the hard decision of coming to this church because I have a family. I have a family to fight for. I have a family to strive for and I don’t want to abandon them.”
Pinos’s 15-year-old daughter, Kelly, says friends and classmates tried to help her change ICE’s decision.
“We had 500 postcards with two different pictures of me and my family. And on the back it had... please leave my friends, family here. They mean the dearest to me. And please let them stay.”
Pinos says he has no criminal record. He has lived in the United States since 1992. He is the third undocumented parent who has sought sanctuary in a New Haven church this year.
ICE considers churches, schools, and hospitals “sensitive locations” where officials will not enter.