Mexican Immigrant Seeks Refuge From
Deportation In Arizona Church
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[May 15, 2014]
By Paul Ingram
TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - A Mexican
immigrant who has lived illegally in the United States for more than a
decade has taken refuge in an Arizona church after he was ordered
deported, in a high-profile and highly personal challenge to U.S.
Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, 36, was ordered in April to report for
voluntary deportation on Tuesday. He instead turned to a Tucson
church whose leaders were once heavily involved in a movement to
give sanctuary to refugees streaming to the country from wars in
Central America in the 1980s.
"I'll do anything it takes to stay with my family," said Neyoy Ruiz,
who has lived in the United States for 14 years and has a
13-year-old son who is a U.S. citizen.
Federal immigration officials have focused their efforts on stopping
illegal border crossings and deporting unauthorized immigrants
arrested for crimes.
Under pressure from groups who say too many non-violent immigrants
are caught in the system, President Barack Obama is expected to
announce revisions in the coming weeks to U.S. deportation policy.
Neyoy Ruiz is not the first immigrant to turn to a church for refuge
from deportation. In 2006, Mexican immigrant activist Elvira
Arellano famously entered a Chicago church and stayed there for a
year, but was ultimately deported.
She has since returned to the United States and seeks to stay on
Neyoy Ruiz and his wife came to the United States from Mexico 14
years ago. He was caught in a 2011 traffic stop when a police
officer noticed smoke emerging from the back of his car and pulled
him over, said his attorney Margo Cowan.
Unable to produce identification, Neyoy Ruiz was held for U.S.
immigration authorities and spent a month in detention.
About a month ago, a letter arrived from U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, said Neyoy Ruiz, giving him 30 days to appear
for voluntary deportation before midnight.
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Fearing separation from his family, Neyoy Ruiz asked for help from
Southside Presbyterian in Tucson and went to stay at the house of
worship on Tuesday.
"The community was very moved by Daniel and the importance of
protecting the unity of his family," said Reverend Alison
Harrington, the church pastor.
An immigration spokeswoman said in an email on Tuesday the agency
was "conducting a comprehensive review of Mr. Ruiz's case to
determine appropriate next steps."
Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration
Reform which seeks to limit numbers entering the United States,
criticized the church's action.
"Churches don't have the legal right or the moral authority to
impact removal orders that have been handed down by the courts," he
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Clarence Fernandez)
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