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These are some of the skills Rosa Gutiérrez López has learned since Dec. 10, 2018, when she became the first unauthorized immigrant to get refuge inside a religious institution in the Washington area.
The Salvadoran immigrant periodically shares her experience with members of congregations interested in also offering sanctuary, and feels more relaxed since her three U.S.-born children joined her six months after she moved into the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, located 9 miles from the White House.
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But even with the peace of mind she has found in her shelter, Gutiérrez struggles with the idea that she is confined to a seven-acre campus. Her case is seen by some as evidence of a cruel system that needlessly punishes immigrants with no criminal records, while immigration authorities and others say whoever comes into the country without authorization needs to deal with the consequences.
“Sometimes I take half-hour walks (inside the campus) but I never make it to the street. That is forbidden to me,” Gutiérrez told The Associated Press during a recent interview. She is also eager to remove from her ankle the 5.5-ounce electronic shackle that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, fitted her with two years ago.
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