SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A young mother from Honduras is enjoying the types of activities we often take for granted. She’s able to take her daughters to the park or to get ice cream, things they haven’t been able to do for the last three years and two months while living in sanctuary.
On Thursday, the bell at First Unitarian Church rings for Vicky Chavez’s freedom.
Clapping and smiling beneath her mask, she steps out of her home for the last 1,171 days. Had she done this prior to Monday, she would have been seized by Immigration Agents and deported back to Honduras, a place she escaped with her two daughters because of domestic abuse and rampant violence.
She was set to be deported on January 30th, 2018, but instead came here, a place it seemed she might be in forever. That is, until she received a fateful e-mail and phone call from her immigration attorney, Skyler Anderson, on Monday.
“Nobody expected the news. Nobody. And then the lawyer say ‘Yes, Vicky, you can go outside. You can walk four streets, then you can come back and finish reading that e-mail because you are free right now,” Chavez tells reporters.
“This is an amazing story. It’s a great moment right now,” says Anderson. “There are millions of Vickys in this country. I’ve represented many of them. There aren’t enough churches to give sanctuary to all the Vickys of this country. This country needs to be that sanctuary.”
A stay of removal gives Chavez and her now 9 and 3-year-old daughters one year to continue their quest for asylum.
“I’m leaving the room that I hear myself crying in for many nights,” says Chavez. “The room where my daughters have spent hours playing since they couldn’t have fun to go out in the park. Today I leave that room, that home.”
Now they’re off to a new home in the Salt Lake area, new schools, and new adventures.
“My kids are very happy because they want to go to Disneyland,” says Chavez.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson were at Thursday’s news conference while Governor Spencer Cox called Vicky’s stay of removal “great.”
“We are a state that cares deeply about people who have been subject to just horrific acts in their country,” Gov. Cox said. “We are a state that was founded by political refugees, including my own family, and we are a state that has always welcomed refugees to come here so I think it’s great that she’ll have an opportunity to stay here.”