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Woman Taking Sanctuary At Springfield, Mass., Church Granted 1-Year Stay

A woman who faced deportation and took sanctuary at a Springfield, Massachusetts, church has received a one-year stay of removal from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Gisella Collazo is the mother of two American children and the wife of an American citizen. Collazo arrived in the U.S. from Peru in 2001.

Facing a deportation order, she entered sanctuary in March at the South Congregational Church. Now she's free to leave the church.

"I feel happy because I will be at my house with my family," she said. "I will be able to do things independently again, take my children to the park peacefully amd live our life normally." 

The stay does not eliminate the final order of removal Collazo received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"While this is a temporary victory, we are happy with it," said Andrea Reid, Collazo's lawyer. "And hopefully, at the end of the day, she can get to the ultimate goal, which is to stay here with her family."

An ICE spokesperson would not comment on why immigration officials decided to grant the stay.

After Collazo took sanctuary at the church earlier this year, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued a statement. "We will not stand for the harboring and protecting of illegal and/or criminal activities at this site," he said. He asked city employees to inspect the church for code violations, and look into whether it should lose its tax-exempt status.

Sarno had no comment on Collazo's stay of removal.

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