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Family that sought refuge in church gets stay of deportation

A Mexican immigrant who had sought refuge in a church in the American Southwest will receive a temporary reprieve from his deportation order. The man, age 35, had reportedly fled to a church in Texas' regional neighbor of Arizona after he faced deportation because of a traffic stop. He will benefit from a one-year stay of deportation that will allow him to build an immigration case for staying in the country.

The defendant in this case is not accused of committing any crimes of moral turpitude; instead, he had a clean criminal record, and he has held a steady job in the U.S. for some time. The defendant has also been living in Tucson for 14 years. He was pulled over for a traffic stop three years ago because his vehicle was emitting dense smoke from the exhaust pipe. When officers found that he was an undocumented immigrant, his case was sent to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. That group recently required the man to report to its facilities in order to arrange a deportation.

The man, his wife and his teenage son have been living in Southside Presbyterian Church since mid-May. That church is known for its long tradition of helping immigrants. It played a significant role in providing assistance for those fleeing Central American conflicts in the 1980s, according to news reports.

Although few immigrants may be able to successfully seek a stay of deportation by seeking refuge in a church, more immigrants are slated to receive clemency because of policies that prioritize deporting criminal immigrants. Instead of focusing on small-time offenders like this man -- who likely would have just received a traffic ticket -- the Obama administration is calling for deportation only for those who find themselves facing criminal conviction and immigration. Those who actively contribute to their society and generally abide by the law should not have to face such harsh consequences. These victims deserve legal protection and recourse in the event of a deportation threat.

Source: NPR, "Immigrant Who Sought Sanctuary In Arizona Church Can Stay In U.S." Bill Chappell, Jun. 10, 2014

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