Family living at Philadelphia church for 843 days celebrates freedom, deportation fight

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Monday, December 21, 2020
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After living in sanctuary for 843 days, it was a moment of elation for Clive and Oneita Thompson as they walked out of Tabernacle United Church in West Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After living in sanctuary for 843 days, it was a moment of elation for Clive and Oneita Thompson as they walked out of Tabernacle United Church in West Philadelphia Monday morning, celebrating their freedom.

"We won. We won. We won. Thank you," said Oneita.

The couple has spent years fighting to remain in the U.S. They are now on their way to becoming permanent residents.

ICE officials have agreed to a stay of deportation and to support the Thompsons re-opening their case.

SEE ALSO: Philadelphia church providing sanctuary for Jamaican family fighting deportation

The couple fled Jamaica in 2004, seeking refuge from gang violence. They have seven children, three of whom are American citizens.

"I was very fearful of losing my children. I was very fearful of losing me. I was very fearful of losing the will to fight," said Oneita

The Thompsons call this life-changing breakthrough a miracle.