New Britain Couple Set to Be Deported to Pakistan Takes Sanctuary in Old Lyme Church

A New Britain couple set to be deported to Pakistan Monday has taken sanctuary in an Old Lyme church. 

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme had offered sanctuary to Malik Nayeed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson John Mohan said the couple entered the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas in 2000, but did not leave the country in accordance with the terms of their visas. 

An immigration judge with the Executive Office Review issued final orders of removal in January 2008 and the Bureau of Immigration Appeals upheld the decision in May 2010, Mohan said. 

Malik Nayeed bin Rehman and Zahida Altaf, who own Pizza Corner in New Britain, are currently enrolled in the agency’s Alternatives to Detention program. 

Mohan said enforcement actions may occur at sensitive locations in limited circumstances, but will generally be avoided. Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are classified as sensitive locations. 

The church hopes that providing sanctuary to the family is to help slow the deportation procedure down and provide an opportunity for the appeals process. 

“We believe that, with time and reason and compassion, the couple can receive the full, fair hearing and consideration they deserve – and that justice will prevail and they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. with their five-year-old daughter Roniya (who is a U.S. citizen) and extended family members. Deporting the parents would needlessly tear the family apart,” the statement from the church says. 

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