First Congregational UCC Albuquerque celebrates sanctuary guest's freedom

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Sanctuary guest at First Congregational UCC Albuquerque, Kadhim Al-Bumohammed, 66, is allowed to leave the church without fear of deportation, after his case was reopened on June 26.

After coming to the U.S. from Iraq in 1994 he was granted refugee status, but when he accidentally missed a deportation hearing in 2017, ICE instructed him to turn himself in for deportation. But he went to FCC Albuquerque for sanctuary, instead, where he's lived ever since.

After the Board of Immigration Appeals reviewed his case, his deportation order was removed.

From former FCC Albuquerque moderator, Marcia Harris, who served at the time that Kadhim entered into sanctuary: "I am so proud of my faith community. With the help of many others, we provided sanctuary to an individual unfairly facing deportation and near-certain death; a man who helped the U.S. Army and is committed to this country and what we say our values are. We learned so much from him about courage in the face of fear and nearly insurmountable odds. He gave us the opportunity to live our beliefs. Go home safely, dear friend. Carry our love and support with you as you return to your home."

"I am deeply grateful for First Congregational Church/Albuquerque and Pastor Sue Joiner’s Gospel faithfulness. Kadhim’s life and the lives of his family have been transformed by this church’s love and their pastor’s courage. Kadhim’s story incarnates what sanctuary is designed to provide guests, safe space and hospitality during the years it takes backlogged immigration courts to complete due process so that immigrants are treated justly and compassionately. " – Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons, Conference Minister

Watch the press conference here.