After more than two years living in a church, they will walk free on Monday
Philadelphia, PA – After 843 days in Sanctuary, Oneita and Clive Thompson received written confirmation that ICE will support their case to stay in the country, thus marking the victory of their two and a quarter year fight to keep their family together.
«When we got the letter from ICE, I was just looking at it in shock. It’s a big breakthrough – after working so long, this is a miracle. I feel like all the stress is drifting away, and everything is lighting up with joy.» – Clive Thompson
This has been a long and hard fight. Oneita, Clive, and their two youngest children have spent half of Trump’s term behind church walls – defying racist immigration laws, fighting to keep their family together, facing down ICE, and calling attention to the millions of people in the same situation.
Building a broad community of support, we have held actions at ICE, vigils all over the city, and community dinners; we have sent letters, prayed, made calls, fasted, and met with elected officials. Over two years, we built enough pressure on ICE to remove their deportation and support the Thompson’s path to permanent residency.
Our campaign faced repeated setbacks, but kept up the pressure. When their oldest daughter, Angel, became a citizen, ICE denied an application for a stay of deportation. And even when she applied to sponsor her parents, opening a path for Oneita and Clive to become permanent residents, ICE still denied their applications for a stay of removal. Over the summer and fall, we continued pressure on ICE, with an escalated push before for them to be home for Thanksgiving.
ICE has gone beyond just a stay of deportation and has agreed to support the Thompsons re-opening their case and removing the deportation. They are now on their way to become permanent residents.
On Monday, Oneita and Clive will be joined by their family, clergy, members of Tabernacle United Church and New Sanctuary Movement to walk out of the church free – to announce and celebrate the victory.
Oneita and Clive came here from Jamaica about 15 years ago fleeing gang violence. They have 7 children, three of which are citizens. They lost their asylum case and ICE ordered them deported, which would separate them from their children. When they received the notice to report for deportation two years ago, they entered Sanctuary to keep their family together.