GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Mother’s Day traditions are different for everyone, but it’s a day many families come together to honor moms for everything they do all year long. For immigrant mothers facing deportation, Mother’s Day will be a bit different this year.

  • Ortega living in sanctuary since May 31, 2017
  • Ortez-Cruz in sanctuary since April 17 of this year
  • Waiting on state legislatures for help

Interpreter, Lori Fernald Khamala, mother of a ten-year-old daughter and director of American Friends Service Committee met us inside the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greenbsoro to sit down with Juana Ortega, a woman and mother who came here from Guatemala. Ortega has been living in the U.S. for 25 years; she’s been living in sanctuary since May 31, 2017.

"I’m remembering that a year ago I was celebrating in my home, in my church. And now I can't. Usually, we would have a Mother's Day celebration in church, and after church we would go home to continue the party, and this year we can't do that. That's not going to happen this year," said Ortega.

Ortega is not the only mother in this situation. Rosa Ortez-Cruz recently took sanctuary at the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill on April 17. She is the sixth person currently in public church sanctuary in North Carolina.

In just the past month, the women have become a support system for one another.

"It's really helped me a lot, the support of Juana, but it also breaks my heart knowing that she has been in this situation for so long," said Ortez-Cruz.

For these moms, holiday’s like Mother’s Day are especially hard on their kids.

"My kids are still so little, and I'm really hoping someone is able to bring them to spend the day with me," said Ortez-Cruz. "It's very important for moms to be able to be with their kids, and it's really hard on the kids also for them to see all the other kids who can be with their moms on this day but they can't."

For now, the women are waiting on answers from state legislatures who can help.

North Carolina has the most active congregational sanctuary cases in the country.

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