HUMBOLDT PARK — More than a decade after St. Aldabert United Methodist Church made national headlines for protecting an undocumented immigrant, the church announced it is providing sanctuary for another woman facing deportation.
Francisca Lino, 50, of suburban Bolingbrook, has moved into the Humboldt Park church at 2716 W. Division St. to avoid deportation — just like Elvira Arellano did in 2006.
Lino, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was given notice of her deportation at a March check-in with immigration officials. The deportation was scheduled for Friday. But rather than turning herself in, Lino arranged to stay at the church to thwart officials. Her husband, Diego, and her six children, have remained in Bolingbrook.
"She is not hiding from your officers, but instead, is asking for protection from her God," Lino's lawyer, Chris Bergin, wrote in a letter to immigration officials that was shared with reporters at a Wednesday news conference.
Through a translator, Lino, who does not speak English, said she was sad Tuesday morning when her deportation seemed inevitable, but "woke up feeling confident" Wednesday after the church agreed to protect her. Lino said moving back to Mexico, which she described as violent, would rip her family apart.
"The only crime she made was coming to the U.S. for a better life for her kids," said Janette Alonso, whose family helps run the church.
According to Bergin, Lino has no criminal record and deserves to stay in the country, where she and her family have made a life.
Lino was deported once before. According to the Tribune, she was arrested in 2005 because her application to obtain a green card didn't include an earlier arrest at the border in 1999.
Emma Lozano, the church's pastor, helped make arrangements for Lino to stay there.
Lozano, sister of labor activist and community organizer Rudy Lozano, is also founder of Centro Sin Fronteras, a Chicago-based organization that has fought for better schools and housing and against deportations. She also runs Lincoln United Methodist in Pilsen. Rudy Lozano was murdered in 1983.
Historically, many undocumented immigrants like Lino who don't have criminal records have been allowed to stay in the country so long as they check in with immigration officials every six months to a year. But officials have expanded the pool of immigrants targeted for deportation under the Trump administration.
With Lino's announcement, St. Aldabert United Methodist Church is in the spotlight again. The Humboldt Park church made national headlines in 2006 for sheltering undocumented Mexican woman Arellano and her seven-year-old son.
In the fight, Arellano became the face of the sanctuary movement. She was deported in 2007 after leaving the church, but returned to the United States in 2014 and applied for protected status. In March, officials ruled that Arellano could stay in the country another year.