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New Haven Man Taking Sanctuary In A Church Pleads Case To Board Of Immigration Appeals

Christian Carter/WSHU
Nelson Pinos, an undocumented father of three, with his family in front of the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church

Nelson Pinos has been living in a New Haven church for 208 days.

“It’s been several months that I’m stuck in this church without being able to provide for my family, without being able to tell my son when I’m gonna go back home when he asks me, which is very often. “

Pinos, an undocumented father of three, sought sanctuary at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church last fall instead of boarding a plane to his native Ecuador.

He’s trying to challenge a deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. That agency considers churches, hospitals and schools so-called sensitive locations that they will not enter.

His lawyer, Tina Collon Williams, said in a press conference outside the church Tuesday that a court in Minnesota refused to reopen his case. Colon said her clitent's last hope rests with the Board of Immigrations Appeals.

“What we’re asking right now is for the board to exercise their power and authority to lift the finality of this removal order so that he can have an opportunity to present his case and see if he is eligible to stay.” She said.

Williams said Pinos missed a court date in Minnesota that he didn’t know about in the ‘90s. He had been checking in with ICE regularly.