Court withdraws deportation order for Honduras woman living in Chapel Hill sanctuary

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — On Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided to withdraw the deportation order for a woman who has lived in sanctuary at a church in Chapel Hill for almost two years.

Rosa Ortez Cruz has lived in the sanctuary at the Chapel Hill Mennonites Fellowship church for 22 months. On Wednesday, she found out that her deportation order had been withdrawn and that she is now free to live with her children in Greensboro.

“I wanted to leave running to go find my children,” Cruz said in Spanish. “It just seemed like an impossibility that I’d finally be reunited with them.”

Cruz moved to Greensboro in 2002 to escape the violence in her home country of Honduras.

“In Honduras, it’s a very dangerous place to live,” Cruz said. “There were a lot of risks there for me and for my children.”

Cruz spent 15 years raising her four children in Greensboro until 2018 when the immigration laws changed.

In April of 2018, a deportation order was filed and she was forced to seek sanctuary.

Isaac Villegas is the pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship where Cruz lived in the sanctuary for 22 months.

“We offered her sanctuary here in this church so that the courts could take their time and process her case,” Villegas said.

Villegas said they were all surprised on Wednesday by the judge’s decision.

“We were thrilled,” Villegas said. “So much excitement in that room, so much dancing and crying, there was a lot of emotion.”

Cruz said she plans to go back to Greensboro after her last court appearance in Charlotte.

“I had faith that they would decide something and I’m just so grateful because God listened to the prayers of the pastors and the community,” Cruz said.

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