Russian woman facing deportation welcomed into sanctuary at Northampton church

Hampshire County

The Unitarian Society of Northampton officially welcomed a Russian immigrant into sanctuary Tuesday afternoon. 

The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence Church is in solidary with Irida Kakhtiranovand as she continues to take sanctuary in Northampton.

The Unitarian Society held a news conference Tuesday as parishioners looked on, welcoming Irida, a mother of three, to the community. 

The Pioneer Valley Worker’s Center said the decision to provide sanctuary to Irida was a result of a congregational vote in December.

It declared that member’s are willing to provide sanctuary to someone in need.

“May we found our humanity,” Florence resident, Betty Wolfson said. “I feel that all people deserve certain basic rights and the immigrants in our county are being denied that.”

Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz said he supports the church’s decision to open its doors to Irida and will not interfere with the congregation.

Irida told 22News she is thankful of all the support.

“With help from my family, with help from my friends, I think this was the best decision and this was the only right decision because I am here and I will fight until I no longer can,” Irida said.

Irida is the third undocumented immigrant receiving sanctuary in the Pioneer Valley. 

The Unitarian society said its full support of Irida and is willing to provide sanctuary as long as she needs.  

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Irida was enrolled in a program on the condition that she voluntarily leave the United States. They said Irida violated the terms of the agreement, and as a result, she is now considered an ICE fugitive.

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