NORWALK, Conn. — St. Jerome Church in Norwalk was packed with over 300 people Monday night for a prayer vigil in support of a parishioner who is facing deportation to her native Korea after living in the U.S. for 18 years.
Many people took to the podium to speak in support of Jung "Sarah" Courville. She has been married to a U.S. citizen for 14 years and has two U.S.-borne children, one of whom is disabled.
Speakers at the vigil included her husband, Richard; the church pastor, the Rev. David Blanchfield; Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling; U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal; the Rev. Anthony Bennett of Mt. Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport; and Rabbi Michael Friedman of Temple Israel in Westport as well as her immigration lawyer, Sung-Ho Hwang.
Courville, who is an undocumented immigrant, has been ordered to leave by the end of September.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) condemned the order of deportation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and called on the faith community to provide sanctuary for her.
“Sarah Courville is a good person, longtime Norwalk resident and pillar of the community who embodies the American dream," Duff said. "We should be encouraging people like Mrs. Courville, not punishing them. What strategic, economic, public safety or national security purpose does it serve to rip her away from her husband and children and break up her family?
"Our country needs a rational national immigration policy. Deporting Mrs. Courville does not make any sense. Today, I am calling on the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement to allow Mrs. Courville to remain in the country in order to care for her children. Until then, I am counting on the local faith community to do the right thing and provide sanctuary for Mrs. Courville.”
Supporters are urging the government to reopen her case and grant a stay of deportation.
According to the Hour, Courville blames miscommunication with her lawyer for missing an appearance in Immigration Court years ago. After her marriage in 2003, she learned of the order of deportation for her.
The Courvilles said they pursued citizenship, but they were given bad legal advice by a lawyer who has since been disbarred, The Hour said.
In 2010, she was traveling with her family in the Virgin Islands and was detained at the airport because she was undocumented.
Courville was released and told to report to ICE in Hartford. and granted a stay of removal. Every year since then, she has reported to her check-in appointment with ICE. But this year, she was told to report by Aug. 28 with a plane ticket to Korea and to be out of the country by Sept. 27.
The family has now hired Hwang, a South Korean immigrant, who is working to reopen the deportation case and obtain a stay of deportation, The Hour said.
Courville's case is similar to that of two other local immigrants.
The case of Nury Chavarria, a Norwalk mother of four who was ordered deported to her native Guatemala after 24 years in the U.S., was resolved last month. Chavarria was granted a stay in her deportation after she took sanctuary in a New Haven church. She can now work out her problems with her immigration status.
In an unresolved case, New Fairfield resident Joel Colindres, 33, was ordered to be leave by Aug. 17. He was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. without documentation in 2004. He married his wife, Samantha, a U.S. citizen, in 2010. A trio of federal lawmakers from Connecticut has asked the ICE to reconsider his deportation order.
Click here for the story at The Hour.
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