Michigan church offers sanctuary to mother set to be deported - WNEM TV 5

Michigan church offers sanctuary to mother set to be deported

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A woman who has lived in Michigan for 13 years moved into a church Monday to avoid a deportation order. The congregation is rallying around her as she and her son figure out what to do.

Saheeda Nadeem said it’s a last-ditch effort to keep her family together. She moved into First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo on her deportation day.

"My only son is here and they are asking me to go back. I don't want to leave him,” Nadeem said.

A single mom, she hasn't been to Pakistan in 40 years and has no family there.

"She has no one to take care of her, and most importantly, Kalamazoo is her one true home,” said Samad Nadeem, her son.

For more than a decade, Nadeem has worked as a caregiver at a group home in Kalamazoo.

"She's kind of their mom and they're pretty severely disabled. And she had to explain to them that she wouldn't be coming back tomorrow and they didn't understand. And they were crying and sort of hanging on to her, but she had to go,” Pastor Nathan Dannison said.

Now, she must stay inside the church or risk deportation.

"She was so sad because she had to say goodbye,” Dannison said.

A day of many goodbyes started at a Kalamazoo cemetery. Nadeem normally visits her daughter's grave every morning, which is no longer a possibility.

'If she steps outside the doors of the church, ICE could arrest her,” Dannison said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy limits action at places of worship, except in extreme cases.

"She's never had any criminal offense at all. She has a full-time job. She has a house. She's established in the community,” Dannison said.

A Kalamazoo Promise Scholar, Samad is protected by DACA until next year. He’s vowing to stay with his mom, wherever that may be.

"I feel like home, I don't have place to go now,” Nadeem said.

Samad said if his mother is forced to go back to Pakistan, he will follow her to a country where he has never been.

For now, the church has signs in front warning federal officials to stay out if they don't have a warrant.

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