Abbie Arevalo-Herrera (above, standing with her family at a press conference) is a Richmond mother who arrived in the United States in 2014 with her oldest child fleeing domestic violence. Threats against her life continue, most recently just 22 days ago. She immediately applied for asylum upon arrival and has been moving through the courts, going to her check-ins. Abbie is now married to a legal permanent resident and they have a two-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen.

On June 18 ICE ordered Abbie to come to the office where they would detain her and pursue her deportation. She is facing this situation because of the ruling from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week stating that domestic violence is no longer grounds for asylum.

Abbie is staying in Richmond, her home, with her family. She has taken Sanctuary at First Unitarian Universalist Church, where she will continue to fight her case with the support of VICPP’s Central Virginia Sanctuary Network. She is the first woman in Virginia to seek Sanctuary in one of our partner congregations.

“I’m so grateful to see you all here,” Arevalo-Herrera told a large crowd gathered at the church for the press conference. “I don’t want to be taken away from my family. I know that I am one case of many and that people don’t want to listen. And I’m going to fight for my case and I’m going to fight for my family.”

We are calling for everyone to support Abbie and keep her family together! ICE has a long history of tearing families apart and we need you to take action. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Share the video of the June 19 press conference from First UU with the hashtag #FreeAbbie on the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network Facebook page or on your Twitter feed;
  2. Sign our petition calling on Jeff Sessions to rescind his cruel policies endangering women and children;
  3. Join one of the many actions at local congressional offices to demand that your representatives come meet Abbie and support legislation that will make her free;
  4. Volunteer with the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network.

Lana Heath de Martinez, Welcoming All Coordinator

Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy