Mexican Rosa Robles has finally left the Southside Presbyterian church in Tucson, Arizona after spending more than 15 months in refuge to avoid deportation from the U.S.
Robles, who cleans houses for a living to support her family, began her religious residence after receiving a deportation order. On August 7, 2014, Robles walked into the church with only a small bag of belongings —enough for no more than 10 days—after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told her to turn herself in to be deported. Robles and her family didn’t anticipate she’d be in the church for as long as she was.
Robles isn’t really a cause for concern—she doesn’t have a criminal record and has called the U.S. home for roughly 20 years.
Law and order
“I have been crying all of these days, packing, my children, when they heard the news, their faces just changed,” she commented upon leaving the church.
Robles was affected by state law SB1070, which enables U.S. immigration officials to deport those suspected of having an illegal migratory status. She received the order in 2010 after a traffic fine highlighted her status on police and immigration records.
“I have no doubts that Rosa Robles’ courage and the unconditional support from thousands of members of the community has helped to reach a positive solution in this case, and today she will safely leave the four-walls of the Southside Presbyterian Church,” Margo Cowan, Robles’ lawyer commented.
Robles was lucky, the community rallied round to fight her case with around 9,500 posters and some 7,000 emails sent to the U.S. Customs Enforcement department to try to get her case overturned, Univision reports.
The community also created a Facebook page:
“I learned to be patient. There were very difficult days but I never thought in giving up. It was worth the fight, not only for my family but for millions of others. Many families came to talk to me.” Robles said.
Illegal immigration between the U.S. and Mexico has reached global headlines in recent months, with Republican candidate Donald Trump’s extreme remarks and plans to build a wall between the two countries provoking a backlash from millions of Hispanic residents in the U.S. and beyond.
Mexicans make up about half of all unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. (some 52 percent) though numbers have been declining during the past few years. The Pew Research Center reports some 5.9 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. in 2012, a drop from 6.4 million in 2009.
But what of Rosa Robles? Despite spending 15 months in the church her case still remains in limbo, as tough new immigration laws threaten to deport the much loved member of Tucson’s community.
Sadly, Robles case highlights the uncertainty faced by thousands of immigrants crossing the border daily, in search of the legendary North American dream.
“We are here (the U.S.) for our children,” – she added– “to give them the opportunity to progress. Even though I still clean houses and my husband works as a gardener, we have a better life here than in Mexico.”
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