Greensboro church opens its door to grandmother facing deportation

GREENSBORO, N.C. --  A Piedmont-area church is stepping up to help a local grandmother who faces deportation.

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega has lived in the United States for more than 20 years. She came here to escape violence in Guatemala and received asylum status.

She married a US citizen and now has two children and grandchildren who are citizens.

Ortega had to leave suddenly when her daughter in Guatemala got deathly ill. Ortega didn’t have time to wait weeks for permission to leave and her asylum was revoked.

She came back to the United States illegally, raised a family and checked in with immigration officials every year and they allowed her to stay.

Last month, Ortega was told she would not be allowed to stay and is getting deported.

On Wednesday, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro opened its door to offer sanctuary for the grandmother.

To help accommodate her, Rev. Randall Keeney installed a shower. The church is also launching a campaign to ask Sen. Thom Tillis to stay her deportation.

Juana Ortega’s application was previously denied in April. The family expects to soon know if the application is approved.