Ingrid Encalada Re-Enters Sanctuary and a Father Is “Tricked” Into Custody

Ingrid Encalada Latorre (right) with fellow Colorado sanctuary-seekers Arturo Hernandez Garcia and Jeanette Vizguerra (center).
Ingrid Encalada Latorre (right) with fellow Colorado sanctuary-seekers Arturo Hernandez Garcia and Jeanette Vizguerra (center). Chris Walker
Colorado’s immigrant-rights community has been galvanized by two major developments this week as ICE continues to bear down on undocumented immigrants under the directives of President Trump.

Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a well-known sanctuary-seeker and immigration activist, decided at the last minute to defy her deportation order; she did not show up for a scheduled flight out of the country to Peru on Tuesday, October 17, and instead re-entered sanctuary at a church in Fort Collins.

On Monday, October 16, we also learned about Melecio Andazola Morales, a father of four U.S.-citizen children – including a senior at Yale University – who was detained during an interview appointment at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Morales and his family were under the impression that the interview would be his last step toward gaining U.S. citizenship after a sixteen-year process. Now he is in ICE custody.

Below, we’ve included additional information about each case.

Ingrid Encalada Latorre

Encalada Latorre first entered sanctuary in December last year at Mountain View Friends Meeting – a Quaker institution that is part of the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition — as she fought to change a felony conviction for purchasing stolen identity cards (in order to work) to a misdemeanor charge — which would bolster her chances of countering an order of removal from ICE. Encalada Latorre claims that two different attorneys had not properly advised her about the immigration consequences for pleading guilty to the felony in 2010.

But this summer, an immigration judge refused to see it that way. Encalada Latorre received a temporary stay of removal in May and left sanctuary after nearly six months. But as her case didn’t swing her way and the stay was set to expire, she and other activists appealed multiple times to Governor Hickenlooper to issue her a pardon. The governor was silent on the issue for a while, but finally refused to issue a pardon in mid-September.

With no legal recourse left, Encalada Latorre was given an ankle monitor by ICE and ordered to transport herself to Denver International Airport on Tuesday to fly with her two children to Peru.

According to her statements, issued by the American Friends Service Committee, Encalada Latorre decided at the last minute not to leave the country.

“Until last night, I truly believed I had made peace with the difficult decision to be deported to Peru, taking my two sons with me and splitting our family,” Encalada Latorre said. “I was too tired to keep fighting and to face the long term prospects of sanctuary. I was hopeful I’d find a way to start my life over again. But then, last Thursday, reality started to hit. Bryant, my older son, begged me not to go, not to force him to leave our home and his school. My aunt, recently returned from Peru, shared with me the devastating poverty Peru is facing in the aftermath of Venezuela’s economic crisis. It may seem like a small thing, but Anibal has a bad cold and there’s no health clinic where my family lives in Peru. I decided I have to be strong for my family. I have to do what’s best for my children. I have to fight for them and for my community.”

click to enlarge
Melecio Andazola Morales with his family.
Courtesy Meyer Law Office
Melecio Andazola Morales

This week, the Meyer Law Office announced that it was representing Melecio Andazola Morales, a father of four who was detained on Thursday, October 12, as he was interviewed by USCIS, hoping to gain permanent citizenship after living in metro Denver since 1998.

The case has highlighted a debate over the reaches of immigration enforcement; while Morales had been previously deported in 1997, he had no criminal record since living in Colorado since 1998, and in that time has worked construction jobs for the Denver Coliseum and Denver International Airport, among other significant projects.

His daughter Viviana Andazola Marquez, a senior at Yale University whose college admissions essay was printed in the New York Times, was with her father when he attended his USCIS meeting last week.

She says the interview was going well, but when she left her father’s side briefly, he was detained by ICE agents. She says the agents tricked a law-abiding, hardworking father who was trying to do right by U.S. immigration laws.

She has already been active on Facebook advocating for her father's release:

“We went to the immigration interview on Thursday in good faith, hoping that my dad would walk out with his residency. Instead, our worst fears were confirmed when he was arrested and detained by ICE officials. My studies have been derailed – I should be studying for my midterms instead of preparing to take the place of a parent for my younger sisters. I hope that ICE understands my situation and releases my dad from custody immediately,” she said in a statement.

Attorney Hans Meyer, who is representing Morales, added, “Melecio Andazola Morales has lived and worked in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, working to provide for his four young U.S. citizen children and caring for his ailing mother. He is a valuable, productive member of our community who was in the process of pursuing lawful status in the U.S. when he was baited into an enforcement trap by local immigration officials. He should be released from detention immediately and afforded meaningful due process protections in presenting his case before an immigration judge.”
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker