Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Woman, children enter Catholic mission in Lilburn to avoid deportation

Published August 6, 2015

LILBURN—The Mission of Our Lady of the Americas will provide assistance to a pregnant woman and her two small children who sought shelter there to avoid deportation, a statement of the Atlanta Archdiocese said.

A small room at Our Lady of the Americas Mission has been serving as a place of refuge for Claudia Mariela Jurado and her children, who are reportedly 1 and 5 years old.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta said Our Lady of the Americas will provide assistance to the “extent that the law and their very limited resources allow, mindful that the mission is not a long-term solution,” said Paula Gwynn Grant, the archdiocesan communications director.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time someone has attempted to claim sanctuary in one of our Catholic churches,” said Grant, in a news release Aug. 4.

Jurado arrived in the United States in December 2014 without authorization. In April, a federal immigration judge ordered her sent back to her native El Salvador “following a comprehensive hearing on the merits of her case,” said a news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Wednesday, July 29, U.S. authorities requested that she report to the Atlanta ICE office on Friday, July 31, for deportation.

Jurado turned up at the mission instead. She cut the tracking device from her ankle, “destroying her GPS monitoring device before absconding,” according to the statement from ICE.

She told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that criminal gangs in her country make her fearful to return to Central America.

Immigration authorities said their policy is not to pursue people in a sensitive location like a church or school, unless there are special circumstances such as national security or an imminent risk of violence or physical harm to any person or property.

According to the archdiocese, “Catholic teaching has long supported the principle that every person has the right to live in his or her homeland in security and dignity with opportunities for work. Yet, when the loss of these rights compels individuals to migrate to other lands, we should welcome them, protect them and generously share our bounty with them. Based on Scriptural and Catholic social teachings, as well as her own experience as an immigrant church in the United States, the Catholic Church is compelled to raise her voice on behalf of those who are marginalized.”

“The Catholic Church continues to advocate for reform of current immigration law,” the statement added.

The church recommends immigrants seek legal counsel to examine staying in the country under the current law or seeking legal asylum.

“The U.S. Catholic bishops do not condone unlawful entry or circumventions of our nation’s immigration laws,” the statement concluded.