Russian woman facing deportation takes sanctuary at Northampton church

Hampshire County
northampton church

A western Massachusetts woman who is facing deportation has taken sanctuary at a Northampton church.

In a news release sent to 22News Friday night, the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, and the Pioneer Valley Workers Center said Irida Kakhtiranova is seeking sanctuary while she fights her deportation case.

“Throughout the ages religious institutions – churches, societies, meetings, synagogues, mosques and temples – have offered sanctuary in times of struggle for those seeking protection from injustice,” Reverend Janet Bush stated in the news release. “Today we join in that tradition by offering sanctuary to a working mother unwilling to be torn from her young children.  Our Unitarian Universalist faith draws from many sources, including those that call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.  It calls us to come to the side of justice and equity, and to show compassion.  Members of this congregation have consulted their consciences, and responded with their hearts in offering shelter among us.  We are grateful that we are able to do so.”

Kakhtiranova is a Russian native, wife to a U.S. citizen and mother of three U.S. citizen children. She is a restaurant worker and sole wage earner in her family.

She came to the U.S. from Russia in 2003.

“It is rare for an immigrant to be given due process, adequate counsel, and time necessary to fight our broken  and inhuman immigration system,” stated Lauren Burke, an immigration attorney advising the Pioneer Valley Workers Center. “Irida is no exception and her story is just one of many.  We believe that providing her sanctuary will allow her to fight her case from a place of safety, security and humanity, which is a protection that should be afforded to every person in the United States.”

Lucio Perez, a Guatemalan man who took sanctuary at the First Congregational Church in Amherst on October 19, 2017, also stated:

“Taking sanctuary is not an easy decision but with the community we have here to support us, it is a far better way to be in this fight than to do it when you are far away from your family and your children. I want Irida to know that she needs to embrace faith and hope…”

A news conference has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at the Unitarian Society at 220 Main Street, at 2 p.m.

22News will continue to follow this story and bring you updates as more information becomes available.

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