Immigrant Who Sought Sanctuary at Chicago Church Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

Francisca Lino has until Thanksgiving Day to turn herself into Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials or be considered a fugitive.

Lino, 50, a mother of six, resisted a court order to leave the country in August and instead took sanctuary at Adalberto United Methodist Church — the same parish on Chicago’s West Side that protected immigration activist Elvira Arellano.

She had 90 days to surrender. In a final effort to avoid deportation, Lino’s attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Friday alleging that the U.S. government violated her Fifth Amendment rights and expeditiously deported her in 1999 without due process.

That arrest made Lino ineligible for legal immigration status, causing her to suffer “the loss of liberty, stress, anxiety and physical displacement,” according to the lawsuit.

Her immigration attorney Chris Bergin is planning to use the lawsuit to argue for a stay motion to keep Lino in the country while her federal lawsuit is pending. It’s like calling a timeout, he said.

“I have faith that things will work out. If not, I hope they at least give me time to gather my things and get my affairs in order to leave,” Lino said. “It’s a difficult situation. No one can prepare for this.”

Lino was arrested in 2005 during an interview to obtain her green card because her application did not disclose that she had previously been arrested at the border, according to Bergin. He said Lino was the victim of notary fraud and that she had been honest with immigration officials from the start.

She was handed a deportation notice in March during a scheduled ICE check-in and was told to return to the immigration office Aug. 23 with a plane ticket. Instead, she asked her husband to drive her to the Humboldt Park church.

Bergin showed up to Lino’s final appointment with ICE and delivered a letter to immigration officials explaining that she had decided against self-deportation.

By Nereida Moreno for CHICAGO TRIBUNE
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