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Torres Reyes started housecleaning. Their son Anthony works long days in construction in a nearby town. Their oldest daughter Evelyn, who is studying dental hygiene at Gateway Community College in New Haven, works at a deli, and she and her husband have moved back in with Torres Reyes.


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But Reyes Alvarez and his family have made an effort to make the room feel cozy. A single bed nestled into a corner of the room almost looks like it was meant to be there. That morning, she had brought their twelve-year-old daughter Adriana to join a protest of nearly two hundred people at the federal immigration court in Hartford against the imminent deportation of Franklin and Gioconda Ramos.

Thirty-six protesters, including Fleck, the pastor of the Hamden Plains UMC, sat in a line in front of the court doors, barring entry; they were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. Usually Adriana comes with her mother to First and Summerfield, but today, tired from the early protest and afterschool soccer, her mother left her home to rest.

He has to change the battery every eight hours. If he were to step outside the church, ICE would know immediately.

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I think he got used to it in some way—resignation that he has to wear it for a while. At the beginning, he was very upset that he had to wear it. Reyes Alvarez has about eight visitors every day, he says. ULA organizer Jesus Morales Sanchez is usually with him every weekday, relatives visit on the weekends. His youngest daughter Adriana comes most days after school. Some visitors are ULA members who have made it a habit to drop by to see him. Others are complete strangers who have heard about his case and want to offer their support. To each of them, Reyes Alvarez offers a seat on the couch or around the small wooden table at the center of his room.

Within the church building, Reyes Alvarez can use most rooms when he wants to, but he usually goes back and forth between his room and the downstairs dining hall.

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In the bathroom down the hall from his room, he installed a shower himself, equipped with a stainless-steel handle. He usually just stays inside, although one of their friends always encourages him to go feel the sunlight. Torres Reyes brings her husband food from home or cooks in the basement kitchen. Sometimes Reyes Alvarez cooks, too.

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His specialty? White rice. If no one is visiting, he cooks in the kitchen downstairs, does push-ups, or listens to Bob Marley. Back in Ecuador, he played on a travel soccer team and follows his favorite team, Barcelona, with intensity. Reyes Alvarez met Torres Reyes when he was sixteen years old; they both grew up in Mera, a small town in central Ecuador, in the foothills of the Andes.

In , when their oldest children were toddlers, Reyes Alvarez paid smugglers known as coyotajes seven thousand dollars to make the two- week journey to the United States border. He and forty others were driven from Ecuador to Mexico, then walked to Texas. In , after he became established in the area, his wife joined him.

A year later, they had enough money to rent a bigger apartment in Wallingford, and their children came too. Five years later, they moved to Meriden, and other relatives soon followed suit, settling in the area. Reyes Alvarez was detained for a week- end until his family posted bail. The incident identified him to the U.

Two years later, he received a removal order. Over the following years, repeated attempts to reopen his case were denied. Although he has adopted a daily rhythm, there is no getting used to life in purgatory. The door through which Reyes Alvarez fled deportation now marks the limit of his world. The entrance to College Street, the side door of First and Summerfield, is made of dull metal, with a scratched, square window at eye level. After hours, visitors must press a buzzer to be let in. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and an ICE community relations officer, who affirmed that agents would not enter sanctuary spaces unless in the case of a public threat.

Since the early s, the New Haven Police Department has had a general order stating that officers do not ask people for their immigration status. A decade ago, New Haven experienced federal backlash after instituting measures to support its undocumented residents. On June 5, , the city launched its Elm City Resident card, a first-of-its-kind municipal identification card for undocumented immigrants.

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He fears that something similar may soon happen in New Haven. After all, the side door is almost always unlocked. Over the past three months, the front steps of First and Summerfield have become a gathering place for political action in New Haven. It is here that city and state officials have pledged their support for Reyes Alvarez and his family.

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Connecticut politicians like Blumenthal and U. Representative Rosa DeLauro say that the ICE policies that have singled out undocumented immigrants like Ryes Alvarez betray the unusual malice of the Trump administration. The election, however, is a long time for Reyes Alvarez to wait. By nature a quiet man, over the past few months, Reyes Alvarez has become a spokes- man for the predicament that he, and many other undocumented immigrants, now find themselves in. I just did it to stay with my family and my wife.

The result of the motion to reopen his case could come tomorrow, or next month, or next year. For all of them, as the weeks pass, First and Summerfield feels less like a refuge and more like a prison. On a Monday night in October, the sanctuary of First and Summerfield is full of voices, as dozens of people take seats in a circle of chairs.

John Jairo Lugo, wearing an imitation bird foot around his neck, balances a laptop on his knees and calls the weekly ULA meeting to order. His wife emerges with a few other relatives and takes a seat. Jairo Lugo asks if there are any cases people want to discuss.

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The man stands, his hair slicked back, hands shoved into his pockets. He has a deportation order for early November, he says. A few seats down from Torres Reyes, a woman who has been fighting a deportation order says that she must present herself for supervision in the next few weeks.

Since ICE agents sometimes show up at court when undocumented immigrants attempt to appear for their court dates, ULA organizes groups that can accompany them, a show of emotional but also physical support. There is little organizing that could swing the balance in his favor. But for other cases, like that of Franklin and Gioconda Ramos, acts of civil disobedience can make a difference, Morales Sanchez says. At the end of the ULA meeting, Torres Reyes chats with some of the other members and helps dismantle the circle, stacking chair after chair in the corner.

At 10 a. Reyes Alvarez goes over to a small display at the entrance to the church and picks out his plastic nametag, like the other parishioners. As others trickle in, he and his wife take their seats facing the altar, near the front. Despite the overcast sky and drizzle outside, the tall green and yellow stained-glass windows on either side of the room shimmer with light.

About twenty people have come to the service this morning, and though there are many empty seats, the room echoes with the voices of children. Pastor Juhye Hahn, dressed in white and green vestments, stands behind a lectern, her voice ringing out high and clear as she calls the congregation to worship. Its elegant, rectangular base supports a thin wooden cross and is topped with an angled square that holds her Bible. It is positioned a few feet in front of the altar; Hahn is close enough to hold the gaze of individual parishioners. It is his gift to the congregation.

Reyes Alvarez has already spent many hours working on projects around the church—fixing shelves in the kitchen, repainting the wainscoting in the dining hall—and when he heard that Hahn was looking for a new lectern, he offered to help. But actually, he is the blessing for us. Roads Of Strife Book.

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