Noncitizens living in churches ask to be included in immigration plan

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in North Austin for the past several years has been more than a place of worship, it’s been a sanctuary for a mother and her son.

Hilda Ramirez and her son are being protected by the church from being deported. "y ha sido dificil para mi vivir todo estos anos." (And it’s been hard for me to live all these years.")," said Ramirez.

Tuesday, Ramirez joined other noncitizens, living in sanctuary churches in other cities, asking President Biden for help. "We are tired of living in fear and confinement for years, we need to be heard," said Rosa Sabido who has been in a Colorado church since 2017.

Last week, President Biden announced he wants a plan that will provide a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million noncitizens. He wants to remove several hard-line policies by former President Trump dealing with DACA and asylum.



Despite that pledge, several in the sanctuary group fear they will be overlooked by the Biden administration.

"We trust and pray with this new administration all sanctuary families will soon be free be able to safely return to their homes happy full of love and above all with peace," said Vicky Chavez who has been in a church since 2018.

During the meeting, it was noted that COVID-19 restrictions may give some people a small taste of how they are living.  But Alirio Gamez, who is living in an Austin Unitarian church, said he feels ignored.

"Que en este pais apprecian tanto a un perro y a un gato y a nosotros como seres humanos los han tratado ni siquiera llegando cerca al." (That in this country they appreciate both a dog and a cat, and we human beings have not even been treated near the love they have of an animal in this country.), said Gamez.

Some from the sanctuary group met earlier with the Biden transition team. They said the only promise they got, was that their message would be delivered.

Officials from the National Sanctuary Collective say, currently in the United States, there are about 50 individuals and families living in sanctuary churches.