It’s been over a year since Rosa Sabido entered the Mancos United Methodist Church to escape deportation. Today, trapped in sanctuary and unable to leave the property, she viewed photos of her mother’s casket.
Blanca Valdivia spent much of her time with her daughter at the sanctuary in southwest Colorado, only leaving last December to undergo surgery in Mexico for breast cancer. Several complications led to her death Monday. Valdivia was in good spirits after the surgery and intended to return to Mancos.
“My beloved mom is gone,” Sabido wrote in a Facebook post above a picture of Valdivia’s casket. “The reason of my sacrifice is gone forever.”
Sabido has been at the church since June 2, 2017, after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied a stay of removal. Facing deportation, her only option was to seek sanctuary after working in the United States legally for over 20 years through a series of visas and work permits.
KSJD reported last year that backlogged citizenship applications extended Sabido’s wait period beyond the previous stays of removal granted by ICE. Her sanctuary in Mancos has been a source of both local and national news, drawing attention from outlets like the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters.
But the attention — and the restriction to the property — brought physical and mental fatigue to Sabido and Valdivia.
“She told me,” Sabido wrote, “she had been mourning all this time because her family now was broken apart and scattered.” Valdivia was worried that if she died in Mancos, her family would struggle to send her body to Mexico.
Sabido, who requested family attending services to take photos and videos on her behalf, scolded a system that separated her from the funeral.
“They destroyed us,” Sabido wrote. “I am paying a very high price of sorrow and grief and nothing will take that away from me.”