María Chavalán Sut

Maria Chavalan Sut, an indigenous Guatemalan woman, came to the United States seeking asylum. She passed the credible fear interview at the border after she explained how her home had been burned down by a powerful group that wanted to take her land. The Guatemalan civil war and ensuing genocide had been a threat to her family’s existence for her entire life. With her home destroyed and fearing another attack, María had no other option but to leave. María relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where she went to weekly check-ins with immigration officers. In 2018, María was given a notice to appear in court. The document was written in English and didn’t include a place or a time. When María didn’t show up to her court date, she was ordered to be removed from the country in absentia. She received her deportation order with two weeks notice, and María entered Sanctuary in September 2018. In the summer of 2019, María received a notice of intent to fine from ICE in the amount of $200,000. ICE rescinded the notice in October, but then reissued it in a lower amount in February 2020 ($60,000).