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Gov. Malloy blasts immigration policy, defends Norwalk mom

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NORWALK -

In a strongly worded speech, Gov. Dannel Malloy swooped to the defense of a Norwalk mother of four who sought refuge in a church with little time to spare before her scheduled deportation back to Guatemala.

Immigration authorities had ordered Nury Chavarria, 43, to take a 5 p.m. plane out of Newark Liberty International Airport, a move that would have left her four children behind.

Earlier in the day, family members flanked her as she left her home -- wearing a baseball cap and tears.

Instead of going to the airport, she turned to the Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church in New Haven for sanctuary. A fiery Gov. Malloy also went to the church and blasted federal immigration policy.

Without mentioning the president's name, Malloy accused "this administration" of lying about immigration policy.

"I have not been able to find anything criminal in her background," Malloy said, referring to Chavarria, who regularly attended scheduled meetings with immigration officials for years. 

"I don't think she's changed," the governor added later. "I think the government has changed. The policies have changed. And they're lying about those changes."

Malloy, speaking without a jacket or tie and his collar unbuttoned, painted federal immigration policy as an attack on civil liberties.

"When the American people are not being told the truth, when they are being misled by their government, that is a very dangerous time for all Americans," he said.

When a reporter asked the governor about New Haven being a sanctuary city, he accused the attorney general of making things up and said he preferred to use the word sanctuary when speaking about churches.

"If what the attorney general says, and the president says, and the secretary of Homeland Security says...that we're only after the bad guys -- and that's not true -- then everything they say could potentially be a lie," Malloy said.

And if that's the case, the governor continued, "We're all in danger."

"If they can tell untruths to us about their actions and not be held accountable for those, then each and every time that happens, and each and every time that's successful, each and every one of our rights becomes damaged and susceptible to being denied to us as it might be to others," he said.

For the time being, Chavarria is safe from deportation as long as she remains within the church, according to her attorney. Malloy said he was OK with that.

"This church has opened its doors, and they are willing to protect her while she continues to see if she can pursue more legal avenues to get some level of relief," said Kica Matos, of the Center for Community Change.

She had learned her fate at a hearing in Hartford earlier this week. She has lived in the United States for 24 years.

Chavarria said earlier that she's followed all the rules and doesn't know why this is happening to her.

"I came here for work," Chavarria said. "I'm a mother, hardworking to support my kids, to help them. That's the only thing I do."

Chavarria works as a housekeeper to provide for her children, the oldest of whom has cerebral palsy.

When Chavarria first came to the country, authorities denied her request for asylum, but she stayed and has been checking in annually with immigration officials since 2011.

But at last month's check-in, officials gave her five weeks to leave the country and shackled her with a monitoring bracelet.

Authorities also denied her appeal to stay.

News 12 Connecticut spoke with Chavarria's young daughter, Hayley, who said she has a message for the president.

"Donald Trump, imagine if you were very little, and you were getting taken away from your family," Hayley said. "That's how I feel, and how all other families feel."

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