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Chavarria prepares for prolonged stay in church sanctuary

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NEW HAVEN -

A Norwalk mother defying immigration authorities says she's prepared to remain holed up in a New Haven church to avoid deportation for weeks or months.

Nury Chavarria has been at Inglesia de Dios Pentacostal since last week, where family, friends and supporters rallied Sunday night for a vigil and to call on authorities to allow her to stay. Last week, the governor, Connecticut's two senators and a local congresswoman all voiced their opposition to her removal.

"I left Guatemala because I don't have any good opportunities there," Chavarria says. "It has a lot of crime, rebels."

Typically, immigration agents don't arrest people inside churches, but they technically could.

Chavarria, a mother of four, initially defied a deportation order back in 1998. After a series of one-year extensions, immigration authorities finally ordered her to leave.

She took a detour last Thursday and skipped the scheduled flight back to her native country. She received sanctuary at the church, where she says she's prepared to stay until the government agrees to re-examine her case.

But immigration authorities say that after an "exhaustive review" of her case, Chavarria must comply with the deportation order. Her lawyer is trying to convince a judge to reopen her asylum case.

New Haven is known as one of Connecticut's sanctuary cities.

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