Philadelphians prevent deportation of Honduran immigrant through church sanctuary, United States, 2014-15

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Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
November 2014 to January 2015, Navarro was actually living in the church for 58 days, but the campaign started before and ended after
November 2014 - January 2015
Location and Goals
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Philadelphia, PA
Location Description: 
West Kensington Ministry
goal of specific campaign: grant legal status for Angela Navarro

The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) was established to build a community
that does not discriminate based on faith, ethnicity, class, and to end
injustices against immigrants regardless of their legal or illegal
status. They are a national movement of civil disobedience trying to
pressure President Obama to reform immigration laws. Their movement
goals include pushing Obama to end all deportations, regardless of
“origin, status, criminal convictions, sexual or gender identity,
socioeconomic status, marital status, or previous deportation order”
(New Sanctuary Movement). This includes addressing the availability and
ease with which a legal status can be obtained and the unfair
exploitation of immigrant workers. According to statistics by the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security, in 2013 the U.S. government executed
438,000 deportations, 240,000 non-criminals, and 198,000 non-criminals.
Numbers as high as these have been seen since 2010, with slight
alterations in numbers, but totaling around 400,000 deportations
annually. Conversely, 580,946 young illegal immigrants have received
help and work permits through a policy underway since 2012 called
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

NSM conducted grassroots organizing work, giving youth opportunities to
speak out, educating the community through immigration 101 workshops,
and leading storytelling circles. The organization’s accompaniment
program pairs immigrants who are facing deportation threats with various
congregations to help them with emotional and spiritual support and
provide them with legal counsel, health care services, employment
opportunities, as well as taking them to hearings, deportation centers,
and various rallies. Through this movement, nine campaigns for specific
immigrants have started throughout the country with support from
organizations and congregations including: The Allen Hilles Foundation,
Arch Street United Methodist Church, Bread and Roses Latino Organizing,
Calvary united Methodist Church, Central Baptist Church of Wayne, and
more than ten other congregations. Their wide support gives them the
credibility to offer a real challenge to deportation procedures, and
change legislature, laws, and minds.

Angela Navarro, 28 years old, was born in Honduras and was caught by US
officials trying to cross the US southern border to join her parents
when she was seventeen. The US government granted Navarro’s parents
citizenship after a devastating hurricane in Honduras, Hurricane Mitch.
She disobeyed her final deportation order for more than ten years,
working as a cook. She married a US citizen and had two children with
him, Mariana and Arturo. Hiding became too hard on Navarro, so she moved
herself and her family into West Kensington ministry in Philadelphia on
18 November 2014 as a part of the “New Sanctuary Movement”. Her
husband continued to work as a truck driver, and her children still
attended school while she hid inside the church. The Navarro family
moved into the church for safety while they worked to gain legal status
for her. Federal guidelines prohibited arrests that take place in
sensitive areas (religious facilities), unless there was some threat to
public safety or national security.

Besides the West Kensington church, the New Sanctuary Movement includes
two dozen other congregations across the United States, who protect
immigrants in danger. In 2014, eight illegal immigrants lived in
churches, Navarro being the ninth to take part in the movement.

Navarro received a large amount of support from her Philadelphia
community, of which she was a very active member. Bob Brady, a
Philadelphia US representative and democrat, sent a letter of support
for Navarro to the Obama administration. She also had support from 11
members of the Philadelphia city council, a state senator, and 6,100
signatures of support from local community members in the form of
petitions sent to Obama. All this upheaval for the campaign got the
President’s attention, and shortly after Angela started living in the
church, he issued an executive action that granted legal status to
those who arrived in the US as minors or who have American children.

On January 14th, 2015, after 58 days living in a room the size of a
closet, Navarro won a two-year reprieve, which pardoned her of all
charges and restored all her rights as a US citizen. US Immigration and
Custom Enforcement confirmed the reprieve, but it was the Department of
Homeland Security that granted her request. Her case was fought by
Attorney Patricia Camuzzi Luber. The reprieve allows her to obtain a
work permit, temporary social security card, and the ability to apply
for a green card.

Research Notes

immigration reform movement

Kelley, Daniel. 2015. “Woman Facing Deportation Wins Reprieve After Months in Philadelphia Church.” Reuters. Retrieved February 11, 2015 (

Associated Press. 2014. “Mother of 2 US Citizens Seeks Refuge in Philadelphia Church to Avoid Deportation to Honduras.” Fox News. Retrieved February 11, 2015 (

Anon. n.d. “Reger Rizzo & Darnall Immigration Attorney Obtains Reprieve From Deportation for Philadelphia Refugee, Angela Navarro.” :: Pennsylvania Deportation Attorney Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP. Retrieved February 11, 2015 (

Anon. n.d. “Http://sanctuaryphiladelphiaorg.” New Sanctuary Philadelphia. Retrieved February 11, 2015 (

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Clare Perez, 2/11/2015