Sanctuary Civil Fines Lawsuit Update (May 27, 2022)

Here is an update on what is happening on the Sanctuary Civil Fines Lawsuit:

  • Second Amended Complaint was filed on April 25, 2022 adding Federal Torts Claim Act (FTCA), claims alleging that immigration agencies and officials intentionally and recklessly inflicted emotional distress on the sanctuary leader plaintiffs (Edith, Hilda, Maria, and Vicky) through the civil fines policy under which they were each fined hundreds of thousands dollars.  Austin Sanctuary Network (ASN), Free Migration Project (FMP), and First Unitarian Church of SLC (First Unitarian) continue as co-plaintiffs on this lawsuit.  Read more in the press release.
  • Thank you to all who signed the letter that was sent to DHS Secretary Mayorkas in support of the sanctuary leaders on April 27, 2022 with 965 signatories from across the U.S. including 190 faith leaders and clergy, 96 organizations and congregations, and 679 community members and leaders from 34 states and the District of Columbia.
  • We are still in discussion with the government on the lawsuit.
  • In the meantime, Vicky is renewing her Stay of Removal, working full-time, has started her own business, and is bringing up two amazing daughters.

For a history of the Sanctuary effort at First Unitarian church, see the First Unitarian Church of SLC Annual Reports from 2017-2018 through the present.  For more background on the Sanctuary Civil Fines Lawsuit, check out:  ASN v. Mayorkas and FOIA Litigation.   If you have questions, please contact:  Joan M. Gregory, 


What is Sanctuary?

Sanctuary is the practice of allowing someone to take refuge in a house of worship in order to avoid persecution or injustice. Sanctuary has been practiced in various forms for centuries, including the early days of Israel, ancient Greece and Rome, and Medieval Europe.

In recent decades, Sanctuary has become a powerful tool in the fight for immigrant rights. Congregations open their doors to people who are slated for deportation. While living inside this sacred space, undocumented people amplify their message and gain more time to seek justice with the community’s support.


Sanctuary Videos

Vicky Chavez Leaves Sanctuary (4/15/2021) – press conference video
Gandhi Peace Award Presentation (10/3/2021) – video of award presentation to the Sanctuary Steering Committee by the Gandhi Alliance for Peace - recorded and edited by Don Walton and Phil Davis


How YOU can help

Vicky and her daughters need continuing support as well.  Here’s why …

On April 12, 2021, Vicky Chávez received a Stay of Removal for one year.  This Stay has allowed her to leave the church (April 15, 2021) and pursue her case without fear of deportation and without living in the church.  To quote Vicky:  "Freedom is priceless."  

With freedom came new expenses but also new ways to help Vicky and her daughters.  At first, Vicky was not able to work, because she did not yet have a work permit.  She filed for one right after receiving the Stay of Removal, however, it took nearly 6 months to obtain a work permit. So everyday living expenses like rent, car payments and insurance, utilities, healthcare, etc. and all the unexpected expenses took their toll.  Vicky's work permit arrived on October 13, 2021, she found a job, and started working in November.  While that improved their financial situation considerably, it has still been a challenge to meet all expenses, so here are some ways we can help:

To set up ongoing support (everyday LIVING expenses) set up a regular gift to Vicky via VENMO: @Fino87.   This is a gift and is not tax deductible.

To donate to the Legal Defense Fund in support of ongoing LEGAL costs related to Vicky’s case – go to:, click on the red “Click Here to Donate” bar, click on the "collection plate" option, and choose "Give to Sanctuary Defense Fund," and enter your donation amount, and payment information.  This is a tax-deductible donation.

To Stay Connected with developments in Vicky’s case - read The Torch, the church’s newsletter -, follow FreedomForVicky on Facebook -

Questions?   Contact:  


Check out this video highlighting some of the wonderful sanctuary volunteers.  A huge THANK YOU to you all!