PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Support is growing for the undocumented family of five who is taking refuge in a North Philadelphia church to avoid deportation.
The days have been long and monotonous for Carmela Hernandez during the months she’s lived inside of the Church of the Advocate at 19th and Diamond Streets.
They’ve felt even longer for her four children, Yoseline, Edwin, Keyri and Fidel, who returned to school in January despite fear of deportation back to Mexico.
“If they send them back and something happens to them, how do we sleep at night?,” says Congressman Bob Brady.
Brady has joined Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke, leaders from the Federation of Teachers, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia and others in their support of the Hernandez Family.
“We want to get ICE’s attention and let them know, this lady is not fighting by herself,” says Brady, who announced he will be introducing a private bill to implore Immigration Customs Enforcement to reopen Hernandez’s asylum case.
The family of five came to America seeking refuge after two relatives were murdered by Mexican drug gangs.
Brady believes he can get 200 signatures on the bill, but acknowledges that it’s unlikely to pass. His hope, however, is that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gives the family an expedited hearing.
“There are four children and a mother that would be in major harm’s way going back to Mexico,” he said.
Randi Weingarten, president of the Federation of Teachers, says the union has taken action to help protect undocumented children and their families as well as teachers who are here legally under DACA.
“We have seen and witnessed a great sense of urgency,” Weingarten said, noting that the union is holding “know your rights” and deportation defense training at schools across the country.
Locally, such efforts have been ongoing.
Hernandez, through an interpreter, says she thankful her growing list of supporters.
ICE has a policy to avoid taking action in sensitive places like churches and schools, but fear is growing that the directive could change.
There are more than three dozen sanctuary cases nationwide.