Protesters Blocked Federal Building in Hartford in Support of Dad Facing Deportation

Dozens of protesters created a human chain and blocked the front doors of the federal building in Hartford Friday morning in a show of support for a New Haven father who sought sanctuary in a church a year ago after he received a deportation order.

Protesters were expected to gather around 7 a.m. Friday in a show of support for Nelson Pinos, but they ran to the front doors of the building around an hour earlier, linked arm-in-arm, and sat down in front of the doors.

The protesters, who have since left for the day, said they were demanding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement allow Pinos to see his family in time for the holidays.

Pinos sought sanctuary at a New Haven church a year ago today to avoid deportation to his native Ecuador.

Last month Pinos’ attorney submitted an appeal for a stay of deportation – citing the psychological harm this ordeal is causing his children. However, according to CT Shoreline Indivisible, ICE has denied that request.

Supporters had been hoping Pinos would be granted a stay ahead of the holidays so he could spend them with his partner and three children.

Supporters said the stay was requested because the family's separation has caused "urgent and documented" psychological harm to his two teenage daughters and 6-year-old son.

One of the protesters in front of the federal building said supporters would remain there until Pinos gets a stay of removal until he is able to go home and be with his family.

Hartford police, as well as law enforcement from Homeland Security, responded to the courthouse during the protest. They briefly shut down a block of Main Street, but it has reopened.

Pinos came to the United States in 1992 for a better life and has lived in Connecticut for nearly 20 years.

Supporters said he’s been paying taxes with a social security number issued to him by the government more than 20 years ago.

ICE says Pinos continues to evade immigration enforcement by staying at the church, which is considered a sensitive location and a place the agency will not enter to enforce deportation. The agency said that while Pinos has a legal appeal pending in court, there is no change in his status as of this point.

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