After nearly six months living in sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it is not closing Rosa Robles Loreto's case and that her deportation order is still in place, but she and her family have decided to keep fighting, which means Rosa will continue living at the church until a resolution is reached.
Over the weekend, Rosa's attorney, Margo Cowan, received news from Jon Gurule, ICE Detention and Removal Operations deputy field office director in Arizona, saying he's not moving forward and that Rosa's case is still alive, although her removal from the country is not a priority, Rosa said this afternoon. She called Gurule several times until she finally got through to him. All she said is that she would pray for him. It puzzles everyone who has heard about Rosa's case why her case is still open deportation order in place.
I visited Rosa on Saturday to talk about what it has been like for her to have reached half a year living at the church, and to discuss if there had been any changes in her case with the Department of Homeland Security. That day she said Southside Presbyterian's the Rev. Alison Harrington had spoken to Gurule. She, Harrington and Cowan were optimistic about possibly getting Rosa out of sanctuary and back home to her family soon. Rosa told me today that wasn't happening.
This means Rosa, Cowan, Harrington and all other supporters of Rosa are taking the fight higher up to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and even President Obama if they must.
Rosa is a mother, who has worked nonstop since coming to the U.S. with her husband in 1999. Four years ago, after a traffic stop, her immigration status was revealed, which led to two months in a detention center in Eloy. A $3,000 fine later, she was free to go. She then sent a letter and other documents, including income tax forms, to immigration officials pleading for her case to be closed. After all, she has no criminal background, and even Obama has said these cases should not be a priority for deportation. She heard nothing back. The most concrete answer she's received was Gurule's "no" a few hours ago.
When I spoke to her she said she prays every day for strength. Being away from home, her husband, Gerardo, and two boys, Gerardo Jr., 11, and José Emiliano, 8, is weighing heavier and heavier on her spirit. She's still willing to wait, and is hopeful that this whole experience will have a positive outcome, as does everyone else who has met her during this six-month journey.
More about my meeting with Rosa will be in Thursday's Weekly.