A coalition of New Haven high school and college students staged a walkout Thursday in support of Nelson Pinos. He’s the Ecuadorian husband and father of three who took sanctuary in a city church nearly a year ago to avoid deportation.
More than 200 advocates held a rally on the steps of the First & Summerfield United Methodist Church. That’s where Pinos has been seeking refuge to avoid a federal order to leave the country.
Mary Claire Whelan, a senior at Yale University studying ethnicity, race and migration, said she came out in support of every undocumented immigrant in the city, especially Pinos, who’s been living in the church for more than 290 days.
“I just want to see Nelson be able to go home to his family - to his two amazing daughters and his son who just turned 6 years old,” Whelan said. “The fact that we had to have a birthday party for him in the basement of this church makes me angry. And it’s time that he can go free.”
Whelan said Pinos’ case is with the Board of Immigration Appeals headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.
Students made stops in front of City Hall and U.S. District Court chanting, “What do we want? Nelson’s freedom. When do we want it? Now!”
Pinos entered the country illegally more than 25 years ago and has reportedly tried to fix his undocumented status for several years.