Another western Massachusetts church is offering sanctuary to an immigrant facing deportation.
The Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence is providing sanctuary to a mother and her three children.
The church and this community have warmly and lovingly opened up their arms to offer her protection from deportation.
Officials from the church said that Irida Kakhiranova and her three children have been living here since Friday.
Kakhiranova is the wife to a U.S citizen. She is a restaurant worker and sole wage earner in her family.
She came to the United States from her native Russia in 2003 and now faces deportation.
Kakhiranova requested and was granted sanctuary at the church while she fights deportation.
“Our congregation has taken this action in solidarity with Irida and her family and with immigrants across the country who are victims of a broken and cruel immigration system," said Rev. Janet Bush with the Unitarian Society of Northampton.
Kakhiranova did not take part in the formal news conference, saying she didn’t want her identity revealed. She met later with reporters and allowed her audio to be recorded, but no pictures.
"I came to this country ...15 years ago...and I've worked very hard to provide for my family ever since. I feel very much a part of the community where i live and very much an American despite my residence status. I built a life here with the help of my husband and his family in a country I've come to love, and feel is my only true home, I can not picture it otherwise."," Kakhiranova said.
The Unitarian Society, in collaboration with the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, is supporting Kakhiranova.
Kakhiranova also told Western Mass News that she made her decision last Tuesday to take sanctuary here. She also said she would be fearful to go back to Russia if she were deported.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz released a statement to Western Mass News, saying in part: "I respect and support the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence decision to take an undocumented immigrant into sanctuary and pledge that my administration will not interfere with the congregation's principled act of conscience."
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