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Sanctuary In Park Hill

Story and photos by Charmaine Robledo,
United Methodist Church

Special to the GPHN

Araceli Velasquez, a mother of three, sought sanctuary Aug. 9 at Park Hill United Methodist Church and Temple Micah, after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicated it would not renew a stay of deportation. Velasquez came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 2010, fleeing for her life and asked for asylum. She was denied that request, but granted an initial stay of deportation. While living in the U.S., Velasquez met her husband, Jorge, who works at a local car dealership and has Temporary Protected Status. They have three children: Jorge, 4 1/2, Cristofer, 2, and Kevin 10 months. Araceli is the only person in the family without immigration status.

Park Hill UMC and Temple Micah share the building at 5209 Montview Blvd., and the congregations agreed this summer to offer sanctuary to Velasquez and her family. They held a press conference Aug. 18 to publicly announce the decision after ICE went to Jorge’s place of work to question him. Pastors Nathan Adams and Angie Heesacker, of Park Hill UMC, and Rabbi Adam Morris, of Temple Micah, held another press conference and worship service on Aug. 23 to officially welcome Velasquez and her family.

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