Woman who sought sanctuary in Springfield church to return home - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Woman who sought sanctuary in Springfield church to return home

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

One of the three people seeking sanctuary to avoid deportation in western Massachusetts has been granted a reprieve.

The Peruvian woman who has been living in a Springfield church walked out the doors on Monday.

Gisella Collazo has lived at the South Congregational Church since March 26.  Today, she returned home to her husband, who is an American citizen, and her two children after receiving what is called a stay of removal. 

However, Collazo's lawyer told us there is still work to be done to change her immigration status.

Overwhelmed with tears, Collazo said that she is looking forward to seeing her house and taking her two children to the park after living in the South Congregational Church for the last three months.

Collazo is leaving the church without a GPS monitoring bracelet after U.S. immigration officials issued a 'stay of removal', which will would prevent ICE from deporting her in the next year.

"Sort of a temporary reprieve, so it's for a year, so we have limited time, but at least it's something," said Andrèa Reid, Collazo's attorney.

Reid added that this will allow Collazo to pursue a chance to allow her to stay legally. 

According to the Pioneer Valley Project, Collazo arrived in the United States in 2001 and found employment in agriculture.  She would go on to have a relationship with an American citizen and in 2005, they married.  Together, they have two children.

In 2006, Collazo began her efforts to adjust her status and received a work permit.

The Pioneer Valley Project reported that Collazo faced several obstacles as she worked to change her status due to attorney errors.

"Applications that were submitted on her behalf initially were done incorrectly, so as a result, she was put in front of a judge and ordered removed," Reid explained.

Holding hands with a supporter, Collazo walked out of the church turned temporary home as those who sought to allow this sanctuary said that they will be with her in the days and weeks ahead.

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