For nine months, Rosa Gutierrez Lopez has been living at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md. She can’t leave the property. If she does, she risks being deported to El Salvador.
Like millions of immigrants in the United States, Gutierrez Lopez is undocumented. She’s lived in the U.S. for about 14 years, since she fled violence in El Salvador. She has three U.S.-born children and had a life in Fredericksburg, Va. She was granted deferred action in 2014, which gave her a reprieve from deportation, but when she went to renew her status in 2017, it was refused. Immigration and Customs Enforcement slapped an ankle monitoring bracelet on her and she was given a deadline — leave by Dec. 10, 2018. She didn’t know what to do until the church opened its doors and promised her sanctuary.