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Release of couple who had to hide in church basement for 843 days

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An undocumented immigrant couple on Monday left the basement of a Philadelphia church two-and-a-half years after going into hiding, following the news their deportation case had been dropped.

Oneita and Clive Thompson, who emerged from the basement of the Tabernacle United Church on Monday, say they left Jamaica 15 years ago to flee gang violence.

They were forced to hide out for 843 days with two of their seven children after losing their asylum case in August 2018 and being told they would be deported under Trump’s immigration crackdown, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

ICE agents are stopped from taking action in houses of worship, hospitals, and schools.

The couple have seven children – three of whom are American citizens. Their two youngest children, American citizens Christine, 18, and Timothy, 14, joined them in the basement.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wrote to the couple in recent weeks, telling them that they will support their case to stay; it is not clear why.

They are now said to be in the process of applying for permanent residency in the US after fleeing Jamaica when a gang burned their farm, threatening to kill them.

The government had said they could stay, but denied them asylum, and they raised their family in America.

When Donald Trump took office his administration made moves to deport the couple.

Two of their children were born in the United States and the other five all have permission to be in the U.S. – but the parents were told to leave.

Oneita said she got a call from ICE saying she and her husband were going to be deported – leading them to take sanctuary in church three days later.

‘ll I could think about was my family being torn apart, and that we would be killed if we went back to Jamaica,’ she said.

The couple said they had to ‘leave our home, both our jobs, our kids’ schools, and our friends behind’, asking for donations to support their stay in sanctuary.

They first stayed in the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, before later moving to the Tabernacle United Church.

One of their children on the outside, Clive Jr – known as CJ – was accepted to Columbia University in July this year.

CJ helped to take care of the family home in South Jersey and worked nights to help his parents.

Clive, 61, told CBS after learning the case was being dropped: ‘When we got the letter from ICE, I was just looking at it in shock.

‘It’s a big breakthrough – after working so long, this is a miracle. I feel like all the stress is drifting away, and everything is lighting up with joy.’

Nursing assistant Oneita, 48, added: ‘My whole heart is ready to go.

‘Doubt was never in my mind. I was very afraid — afraid of losing my children, of being deported. But if I allowed doubt in my mind, I would have fallen apart. I was fearful, but not doubtful.’

‘I’m joyful, a joyful moment, with tears. Here we are, walking out of the church. We’re going to go back and live the American dream’, heavy-equipment operator Clive added.

Tabernacle’s pastor Rev. Katie Aikins said: ‘It’s a little bit like a Christmas miracle.’

A campaign group called Families Belong Together said the Thompsons had ‘moved from church to church for years’ in order to fight deportation’.

‘This administration forces families like the Thompsons to live with unending desperation and uncertainty,’ the group said.

Sanctuary gives protection to families from immigration officials, but it also alerts authorities to their location – meaning they often cannot step outside at all.

The pandemic also made things harder by leaving them isolated from visitors and reducing their ability to hold fundraising events at the church.

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Bus accident in Peru; 20 were killed and 14 were injured

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Peru: At least 20 people were killed and 14 others injured in Peru after an interprovincial bus skidded and overturned in Sihuas province in the northern Ancash region, authorities said on Monday.

According to the Parobamba district municipality on its Facebook page, the “accident left 18 people dead on the spot, with two more dying while being transferred.”

The accident occurred at about 7:00 am local time on Monday in the Palo Seco area, when the bus, from the “Fama Tours SA” transport company, skidded and overturned.

It was returning from the areas of Huanchayllo and Parobamba and heading to Chimbote and Lima, after the passengers had voted in the general elections on Sunday, a local radio station reported.

Peru’s transport authorities said in a statement that it “has activated all intervention protocols to gather information related to the accident for determining appropriate measures.”

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‘The Science of Compliance’: Pastor Responds to Police Barricade of GraceLife Church

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“They are not interested in the science called virology. It is more like the science of compliance.”

Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, took to his blog this morning to respond to the show of force against GraceLife Church in Canada.

Wilson, who became more widely known after his series of high profile debates with famed atheist Christopher Hitchens, in which Wilson offered stiff competition and a steady stream of witty comebacks.

Wilson’s piece, titled ‘Putting on Our Coates Coats’ confronts the disturbing news that spread across social media last week.
Coates recently served over a month in jail, only to be released and see his GraceLife Church building surrounded by fencing put up by the government. They were shut down, resulting in protests and an even larger police response.

Wilson argued that “ideas have consequences” and highlighted the differences between worldviews.

People act the way they do for reasons. As Richard Weaver taught us, ideas have consequences.

If you believe in God, if you think that the cosmos was created from nothing, if you believe that mankind was created in the image of God, then it is possible for you to believe that we have rights. And by rights, I do not mean privileges, but rather actual rights. These rights cannot be revoked by bureaucratic fiat, they cannot be abridged by executive order, and they cannot be adjusted or trimmed by the winners of elections, stolen or otherwise.

But if you don’t believe in God, if you believe that this material universe is a meaningless concourse of atoms, if you believe that life originated all by itself accidentally in a primordial goo-pond somewhere, and that we are simply simians that learned to shave, then it follows of necessity that we do not have any rights at all. We are nothing more than meat and bones and protoplasm.

Wilson said “the real travesty” occurs when followers of God go along with “the dictates of those who affirm the second scenario” and shouldn’t leave us surprised when a pastor like Coates stands up and “acts like a real pastor.”

He went on to argue that “flat refusal to cooperate” is the only way out.

“We have no business appealing to their god with any hope of getting the kind of determination that we would get if we were appealing to our God,” Wilson said.

“You can’t gather figs from thistles. You can’t get sweet water from a brackish spring. You know. You can’t order a Whopper at MacDonalds. You will not get Christian blessings from pagan gods.“
Siurces:faithwire

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