November 05, 2021

Ingrid Encalada Latorre granted stay of removal in immigration case after years of sanctuary in Boulder church

For the first time in four years, Ingrid Encalada Latorre will get to go to the park with her three children, walk the aisles of the grocery store or go on a hike and take in mountain views.

Encalada Latorre, a native of Peru, has been living in sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder with her three American-born children since 2017. If she stepped outside the church, at 5001 Pennsylvania Ave., she faced the possibility of being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

This month, after several denied requests, Encalada Latorre was granted a one-year stay of removal beginning Nov. 1. This allows her the liberty to live her life outside the walls of the church, without the fear of being detained. She will spend that time working to re-open her immigration case — and, she said, venturing out with friends.

A crowd of roughly 50 people gathered in front of the church to hear the announcement Friday.

“I’m very, very excited and very glad that my community is here to support me in everything that I’m doing, especially with this big victory today of the approval of that stay of removal,” Encalada Latorre told the crowd.

Her advocate, Diana Solares, translated Encalada Latorre’s words from Spanish. Before taking sanctuary at the Boulder church, Encalada Latorre was living in refuge at a Fort Collins church, and at a Denver church for about six months before that.

“It’s been four years, four long years now,” Encalada Latorre said. “It hasn’t been an easy decision to bring my family alongside with me to live here in the church for a second time.”

While in sanctuary at the Boulder church, Encalada Latorre’s daughter, who is now 2, was born. She also has two sons who are 6 and 13. Her oldest child, Bryant, stepped up to the microphones Friday to address the crowd and TV cameras.

“This one of my favorite days ever,” he said. “I can go with my mom and enjoy life.”

While the moment was cause for celebration, Encalada Latorre, and those who spoke Friday, said that there’s still a battle ahead, not just for her, but for the more than 11 million other immigrants caught in limbo.

Gabriela Flora, program director for the American Friends Service Committee, which helped Encalada Latorre go into sanctuary, implored state and national leaders to take action to create a better path to citizenship.

“Ingrid has taught us that you don’t give up,” Flora said. “You fight for what is right and what is just, that it is love that can overcome injustice and determination. Her fight hasn’t been just about her and her family. She’s doing this because there are over 11 million people who need access to papers now. The Congress can do it, if they act right now.”

On behalf of U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse’s office, Erika Blum, an office representative, read a statement that also emphasized the work ahead. Neguse has introduced private bills on Encalada Latorre’s behalf and sent letters to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security asking for a stay of removal for her.

“Now, Ingrid will finally be free to live her life, attend children’s school events and performances, go to the doctor and live in her own home with her beloved children,” the statement read. “I’m honored to be in this fight with you, Ingrid. We continue to work in Congress to fix our broken immigration system.”

Unitarian Universalist Church Rev. Dana Lightsey called the stay of removal a new beginning.

“It’s an amazing moment,” Lightsey said. “It’s also a moment for us all to reflect on what that would mean for us to not have that kind of liberty to move around to have our own lives and how the immigration system is doing this to countless, countless other people and destroying lives.”

ICE officials previously told the Camera that Encalada Latorre illegally entered the country near Brownsville, Texas, in 2002. Latorre, though, said she came to the U.S. in 2000.

While ICE can make arrests of those facing deportation at any time, its officers avoid sensitive locations like churches, hospitals and schools.

Encalada Latorre brought up her No Mas Chuecos campaign Friday and said that she became a victim of purchasing a Social Security card on the black market. While she had intended to purchase a fake, the card was actually stolen. Her campaign advocates and provides education for immigrants to find a legal means of obtaining employment.

In December 2019, Gov. Jared Polis pardoned Latorre’s felony conviction for impersonation, which opened the door for her to pursue legal residency.

Encalada Latorre said she will continue to live at the church for the time being. She said the stay of removal didn’t come with a work permit, which can take up to 10 months to obtain.

Celebrating the development with applause, cheers and hugs, Encalada Latorre at last had some respite.

“It’s a huge relief to be able to leave the church now without having to worry about ICE detaining or deporting me or them stalking me down the street,” Encalada Latorre said. “Just a huge, huge relief.“

By:  Kelsey Hammon
Source: Boulder Daily Camera