NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As a year of deepening criminalization of immigrant communities under the Trump Administration comes to a close, Carmela, an undocumented mother from Mexico, and her undocumented four children are taking Sanctuary in a public act of civil disobedience.
They are resisting deportation orders and challenging the injustices of the immigration systems at large.
Carmela and her four children will eat and sleep at the Church of the Advocate where they sought sanctuary Wednesday.
They intend to stay as long as necessary as she and her children fight to be granted asylum, get permission to stay here in the US, and avoid deportation.
This morning, the Reverend McKenzie welcomed Carmela and her four children, two girls and two boys ranging in age from 9-15 to the Church of the Advocate at 1801 Diamond in North Philadelphia.
"Carmela and your family - you are welcome to have sanctuary here the Church of the Advocate," said Reverend Dr. Renee McKenzie. "We are pleased to be able to welcome you."
Carmela, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, and her undocumented children asked the church to take them in as the family fights deportation orders.
"This is an important thing that we are doing here today," said Rev. McKenzie. "We recognize that because we are standing in solidarity with people who deserve as much as and more than what all of us has."
Carmela came here two years ago. She told the group assembled at the church that she fears what will happen if she and her children are forced to return to Mexico.
"I was being extorted and facing death threats so I can't go back," she said.
Sheila Quintana is with the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, a faith-based immigrant rights organization that coordinated Carmela's refuge at the church.
"Carmela was living in Vineland, NJ and she spent 8 days knocking on church doors in NJ and then ended up in PA," said Quintana. "When she came to Philly, she knocked on several of our members in North Philly who then reached out to us."
Carmela has been seeking asylum in the US for 2 years now - and she will remain here at the Church of the Advocate while her legal battle continues.
"I am doing this so that my protest will be heard, so that I can fight for my family," she said.
This is the third sanctuary case here in Philadelphia in recent years. Both other cases were successful in winning reprieves from deportation.
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Family seeks asylum in North Philly church