Mother facing deportation given sanctuary by North Carolina church

Juana Tobar Ortega (NBC News)
Juana Tobar Ortega (NBC News)

(WXII/NBC News) A North Carolina grandmother has taken sanctuary inside a Greensboro church to avoid being deported.

Speaking through a translator to a standing room only crowd Wednesday, Juana Tobar Ortega said she hopes her sanctuary inside the church will not be for long.

“I have hope to return to my home soon, to be able to hug my children, my grandchildren and to be with my family,” Ortega said through a translator.

The 44-year old mother of four will live in a small room inside the church.

“There is no reason for her to be deported. She is a neat woman, all she did was go to help her daughter, that any one of us would do,” said St. Barnabas Episcopal Church’s Reverend Randall Keeney.

Juana Tobar Ortega fled Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States 24 years ago.

She returned home to care for a sick child, violating her immigration status. During her last visit to the Immigration And Customs Enforcement office in Charlotte she was ordered out of the country.

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