Springfield City Council to vote on South Congregational Church sanctuary issue

Hampden County
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Gisela Collazo had been living in Springfield illegally for 17 years before taking sanctuary at the South Congregational Church last month. ICE spokesperson John Mohan told 22News Gisella entered the U.S. on a fraudulent passport in 2001. The Peruvian immigrant sought sanctuary at the Springfield Church to avoid deportation.

“South Congregational has made a committment to host Gisella for as long it takes to adjust status, said Tara Parrish, Pioneer Valley Project Director. “The goal is for her to walk out of here with no fear that she will be detained or deported by ICE.”

Gisella has been living at the South Congregational Church with her two children for two weeks now. The Pioneer Valley Workers Center said it will be up to her to decide when and if she wants to do an interview. 

City inspectors found minor violations during an inspection of Gisella’s apartment at the church last Thursday. The Springfield City Council is voting on an ordinance that would prevent additional city inspections at the church.

“This is a religious institution in the city of Springfield that is provding sanctuary, said Springfield City Council President Orlando Ramos. “It’s unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional for the city to interfere in a religious practice.”

Parrish said they are still waiting to receive the final report on Thursday’s inspection from the building inspector. 

Mayor Domenic Sarno had no comment Monday on Gisella’s sanctuary issue.

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