A Russian woman facing deportation has taken sanctuary inside of a Northampton church.
Irida Kakhtiranova is a mother of three U.S. born children and wife to a U.S. citizen. She is currently taking sanctuary at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence.
This comes just weeks after Gisella Collazo; a mother to two U.S. born children and wife to a U.S. citizen, found sanctuary at South Congregational Church in Springfield.
In October, Lucio Perez found sanctuary in Amherst’s First Congregational Church.
William Newman, the Director of the western Massachusetts of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, told Western Mass News church sanctuary is a clear example of the separation of church and state.
“The ACLU's position is this is a first amendment freedom of religion issue and it is correct for the government to respect religious institutions and to not interfere and to not engage in enforcement actions there," said Newman.
While Northampton prides itself as a sanctuary city, welcoming refugees to their new homes, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has vehemently opposed the harboring of anyone whose immigration status may be in question.
“It is courageous I think for the church here in Northampton, the churches in both Amherst and Springfield to have undertaken the obligation to care for a person, to bring them into their hearts," Newman added.
Church leaders like Laurie Loisel, Board President of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, worked alongside city officials prior to Irida’s sanctuary.
“We reached out to the mayor, we reached out to the building inspector’s office, we reached out to the police chief and we told them what we were doing and wondered if they would be opposed to what we were doing, and they said no," said Loisel.
Meanwhile, it has been a different story in Springfield.
Tonight at 6 p.m. on Western Mass News, we’ll tell you more about a Springfield city council vote happening Monday night and how it relates to their sanctuary church.
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