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Woman seeking sanctuary from deportation has lived, worked in Kalamazoo for 13 years

Saheeda Perveen Nadeem and her son said Monday, March 12, 2018, that they are grateful for the church membership who agreed to offer her sanctuary from deportation. (WWMT)

She is worried, but she feels safe in the church that has offered her sanctuary.

Saheeda Perveen Nadeem was scheduled to be deported to Pakistan on Monday, but she and her son have taken shelter at the First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo.

“Immigration and customs enforcement lately have been more aggressive, targeting the most vulnerable members of our community,” said church Pastor Nathan Dannison. “I think that's why churches are stepping forward and saying this is unethical and absolutely not who we are as Americans, but it's also, we're not going to permit this is happen in Kalamazoo.”

Signs outside the church give notice to immigration and customs enforcement officials: stay out unless they have a warrant.

Nadeem has a deportation order set for Monday. Members of her church gathered with her Monday morning as she sought shelter there, carrying with them signs bearing messages of support.

Church members said they plan to protect Nadeem and keep her in Kalamazoo, where she's lived for the last 13 years with her son, 20-year-old Samad Nadeem is in the U.S. legally, protected by the DACA program until 2019.

A former student at Western Michigan University, Samad Nadeem said if his mother is deported to Pakistan he will be forced to move to a country he's never been to help his mom.

An undocumented immigrant, Nadeem has worked as a caregiver in Kalamazoo until now, as she remains confined to the church.

An internal memo that Immigration and Customs Enforcement set out in 2011 states that its policy limits enforcement action at places of worship, shielding undocumented people from immigration agents as long as they remain within the church walls barring extraordinary circumstances.

An immigration attorney speaking to Newschannel 3 said that condition should not apply to this situation.


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