Illegal Mexican migrant to leave Arizona church sanctuary after 461 days

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2015 12:36 PM

By Paul Ingram

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - An undocumented immigrant from Mexico who took sanctuary inside an Arizona church more than a year ago to avoid deportation will return to her Tucson home on Wednesday following an agreement with immigration officials, her attorney said. 

Rosa Robles Loreto, a mother of two and a long-time Tucson resident, sought refuge in August 2014, just one day before she was scheduled to turn herself over to immigration officials for deportation back to Mexico.

Loreto, 42, was among more than a dozen undocumented immigrants who took shelter inside a network of activist churches last year.

Some of them have received stays of deportation or other forms of deferred action on their proceedings. Loreto has stayed on the grounds of Southside Presbyterian Church for 461 days.

Her attorney, Margo Cowan, did not detail the agreement made with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and it was not clear if Loreto had secured a stay of deportation.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the amazing courage of Rosa and the steadfast support from thousands of Tucsonans have brought us to a resolution that ensures Rosa will be safe outside of the walls of Southside Presbyterian Church," Cowan said.

A representative for Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not be reached for comment.

Over the past 15 months, supporters have campaigned to persuade immigration officials to grant a reprieve to Loreto, who arrived in the United States in 1999.

Supporters made thousands of phone calls to U.S. officials and asked Tucson locals to place signs on their front yards reading, "We Stand with Rosa." 

Her decision to leave the church comes the same week the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction barring the Obama administration from implementing a policy of deferring deportation actions against more than 4 million undocumented immigrants.

Loreto was identified by U.S. officials after a 2010 traffic stop, detained by Border Patrol agents and then released. After two years of legal wrangling, she faced an immigration judge who decided she was eligible for removal.

No deportation order has been filed against Loreto's husband and their two sons, who lived at their home in Tucson while she stayed at the church, Cowan has said.

Loreto was the second immigrant to seek sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian. Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, 37, spent 27 days in the church before he was granted a one-year deportation reprieve, which was renewed in May.

(Editing by Victoria Cavaliere and Richard Chang)