ICE threatens to fine Honduran woman living in Richmond church sanctuary — again

Richmond

Photo: Hands off Abbie FB page

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond-based asylum seeker along with six other women in the United States received a second notice from Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month notifying them of an impending fine.

In July, 8News reported that Abbie Arevalo-Herrera — a Honduran woman living in sanctuary at a Richmond church — was given a ‘notice of intention to fine’ from ICE for nearly $300,000. ICE ultimately rescinded the fines without citing a specific reason but is now attempting a redo.

“ICE is once again renewing its intimidation tactics against these seven women and the congregations of faith who are sheltering them,” Abbie’s communication team said in a release Tuesday.

Arevalo-Hererra has been living at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond for almost two years. She said she left her home in Honduras six years ago with her daughter to flee an abusive partner.

“I lived for eight years being a victim of domestic violence,” Arevalo-Herrera said.

Arevalo-Herrera has spoken out about her asylum case and has criticized the U.S. immigration system, saying it needs to be reformed. This is in part why her lawyer, Alina Killpatrick, thinks ICE sent her a second notice.

It appears as though these second notices were sent to the most outspoken people. Which leads me to believe that they are doing it for the purpose of silencing these women. Because it’s seven women. They are all women.

Alina Kilpatrick

Having the ability to safely speak out against the government or speak out against domestic violence is something that Abbie could not do in Honduras, Kilpatrick said.

8News spoke with Arevalo-Herrera, who said she feels like ‘they are treating me like a criminal.’

“When the only thing I am trying to do is save my life,” Arevalo-Herrera added.

The 33-year-old said before she came to the United States she would watch movies in which the United States government and police were portrayed as a helping hand. One which would save women and children and keep them alive.

“That’s what they show the world– the government, the people they try to show that to the world,” Arevalo-Herrera said. “But that is not real. It’s not true.”

That type of protection is not for everyone. That’s something that sometimes we don’t see or understand when we are in our home countries.”

Abbie Arevalo-Herrera

Back in July, ICE said in an email to 8News that they have the authority to ‘impose civil fines on aliens who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary departure and fail to depart the United States.’

“It makes me sad that for keeping myself alive I have to pay $799 a day,” Arevalo-Herrera said.

Arevalo-Herrera is being charged the maximum penalty for not departing the U.S. after being issued a deportation order.

At this time, Kilpatrick does not know what ICE is going to do but she said this second notice puts her and her client on notice of ICE’s intent to resurrect the fine and potentially prosecute.

“This is a very troubling notice to receive just before the holidays when Abbie is trying to remain safe in a church with her family for Christmas,” Alina Kilpatrick said.

Arevalo-Herrera said she is just trying to be with her children during this time.

“I can’t have a normal life with [my children] because ICE does not let me,” Arevalo-Herrera said. “It’s not easy the situation I am in, but even then I feel like I still have the strength to keep fighting.” 

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