On Monday, June 11, Gisella Collazo was granted a one-year stay of removal after being in sanctuary at South Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts for nearly three months. Gisella has undergone a battle that no one should have to endure, including being separated from her family and facing the possibility of never being able to live with them again.

However, Pioneer Valley Project ensured that Gisella did not stand alone; clergy and community members in Springfield, across the state of Massachusetts, and across the country stood strongly with her.

Through petitions, vigils, videos, and the media, Pioneer Valley Project elevated Gisella’s story to a point where it could not be ignored, and made it clear that we would not stop speaking up for her and for the many people like her who are facing ICE’s injustice and cruelty. This is an example of what can happen when justice prevails, and an example of the capacity of a community to love and support one another.

In celebrating Gisella’s departure from sanctuary, we also remember the case of Jorge Taborda who has been in sanctuary in Las Cruces, New Mexico for one year. The news of Gisella’s victory nourishes our hope that he too will be able to leave sanctuary soon, as we continue fighting for him to be reunited in safety and happiness with his family.

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