The Rev. Evodia Villalvia, pastor of El Buen Samaritano UMC in West Chester, sought help in October for one of her members, a young Latina immigrant mother whose husband had been detained and then deported back to Honduras. “Isabella” and her husband came to the U.S. with their young son in 2013, escaping gang violence that threatened their son’s life. She then gave birth to a daughter, got a job, joined the church and was given three years to seek asylum. But her work permit expired, and she recently was denied asylum. Thus, she may be deported at any time.
Villalvia sought help from West Chester UMC, El Buen Samaritano’s partner church, and from South District Superintendent, the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm. Isabella shared her story with Bishop Peggy Johnson and the Rev. Luky Cotto, Latino Ministries Coordinator and pastor of the Casa del Pueblo ministry in Hatboro. Local immigration attorneys and Casa del Pueblo’s part-time attorney were unable to help Isabella under current political conditions, with a broken immigration justice system. But both churches are helping her with food and other basic necessities, plus English lessons.
“It is quite sad that there seems to be nothing that can be done legally at this time,” said the Rev. Molly Dee Rounsley, West Chester UMC’s Associate Pastor. Pictured here after the meeting are (from right) Taylor-Storm, Rounsley, Villalvia, Cotto, Bishop Johnson, who wrote about Isabella’s ordeal in her Bishop’s Blog (“Via Dolorosa”), and Luis Castillo, a translator. John Coleman photo