The Guatemalan man taking sanctuary from deportation in Amherst has returned to the First Congregational Church after having emergency surgery.
According to a news release sent to 22News by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Lucio Perez was recently hospitalized due to a life-threatening condition.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, religious leaders, and members of the community welcomed Perez back to the church around 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
“I’m proud that Lucio was able to receive outstanding medical care in the City of Northampton at Cooley Dickinson Hospital,” Narkewicz said. “I’m also proud to stand with Lucio and other immigrant workers in keeping with our values as a sanctuary city.”
According to the PVWC, Perez is the first person who has entered sanctuary to receive medical care while wearing an ankle monitoring device.
“His ability to receive life-saving medical care sets an important human rights precedence for other immigrants living in sanctuary,” the PVWC said.
After the operation, more than 40 supporters escorted Lucio Perez back to First Congregational Church in Amherst.
Since Lucio is undocumented, it’s unclear if tax payers paid for his surgery.
Reverend Margaret Sawyer told 22News, “Lucio has been paying taxes his whole 20-years of being here. He’s been a responsible employee. It’s not just Americans paying the brunt of his health insurance. it’s all of us. It’s him too. It’s all of the workers in our economy.”
Perez has been living at the First Congregational Church since October 2017. The PVWC says he plans to stay there while he awaits the resolution of his case.
ICE Public Information Officer John Mohan told 22News current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations. These locations include places of worship, hospitals, and schools.