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Colorado Springs Man Claims Sanctuary At Unitarian Church To Avoid Deportation

Jake Brownell
Miguel Ramirez Valiente (right), an immigrant from El Salvador, is living at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, claiming sanctuary from a deportation order.

A Colorado Springs man has been living at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church for the past week to avoid deportation back to his home country of El Salvador. His lawyer says the ongoing government shutdown has stymied efforts to fight deportation.

Miguel Ramirez Valiente came to the United States 14 years ago. He’s married to a U.S. citizen, with whom he has three children.

He says he received a deportation order after missing a court date, but says he never got the notification. 

His lawyer, Lisa Guerra, filed a motion to reopen his case, but says the government shutdown means there’s no one to review the motion.

“I’m not sure what happened with the motion to reopen,” said Guerra, “it’s probably sitting in the mailroom with a million other motions that have been filed during the government shutdown.”

Valiente is the second immigrant facing deportation to take up residence at All Souls Unitarian in recent years.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has a longstanding policy of not entering churches to make arrests.

A representative of ICE could not be reached for comment due to the government shutdown.

Jake Brownell is an award-winning reporter and producer covering the news and culture of Southern Colorado.
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