Colorado Gov. Jared Polis granted pardons to five people on Monday, including a mom-of-three who has spent years seeking sanctuary in local churches to avoid deportation.
Ingrid Encalada Latorre, an undocumented immigrant from Peru who arrived in the U.S. in 2000 at the age of 17, had been living in fear of deportation since being convicted of a felony in 2010 for using a false Social Security number to gain employment.
“I’m so happy,” Latorre told supporters on Monday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, where she’s taken refuge since 2017.
“All I wanted was to go home to be with my family and be with my children and now we’ve made it, we’ve triumphed ― but the fight continues,” she added, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
Polis, a Democrat, said that while he didn’t have the authority to change Latorre’s immigration status, he hoped his full and unconditional pardon for the felony conviction would help her gain legal status in the U.S.
“Since your conviction, you completed your probation and paid restitution and taxes,” Polis wrote in a letter to Latorre explaining the pardon, the Colorado Sun reported. “You are a dedicated and caring mother to your three children. You are working to educate others on legal ways to obtain employment and the consequences of using false documents.”
“Not everyone earns the privilege of a second chance,” Polis added. “But you have demonstrated that you deserve one. I hope you will make the most of this opportunity and treat your obligations seriously. It will require hard work and dedication to stay on the right path.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have not said how the governor’s pardon will affect deportation proceedings against Latorre, CNN noted.
She said she intends to continue living at the Boulder church until she knows for certain that ICE will not attempt to detain her if she leaves.
“I want to make sure I have all of my T’s crossed and I’s dotted and make sure that I follow the process correctly,” Latorre told the Daily Camera. “But I am looking forward to going home one day soon.”
According to the paper, a “small army” of volunteers from several churches in the Boulder area help Latorre with daily tasks, like grocery shopping and taking her kids ― who live nearby with her husband ― to school.
“I think I’d rather not even call them volunteers and just call them friends,” Latorre told the Boulder Weekly last year of her support team. “Because they are always here for me.”
Polis also pardoned four men who’d pleaded guilty in drug cases: Eric Edelstein John Furniss, Brandon Burke and Jamie Matthews.
“Clemencies are a tremendous responsibility given to a governor that can change a person’s life,” Polis said in a statement. “These decisions were not taken lightly and were made after careful consideration of each individual case. These are people looking for a second chance and the opportunity to move beyond the mistakes from their past. They have taken important steps to turn their lives around and shown remorse for their actions.”