TEMPE, Ariz. — A Tempe church offered sanctuary to a 23-year-old Guatemalan man who is facing deportation on Thursday.
Luis Lopez came to America six years ago to escape gang violence.
“I requested asylum, but they denied asylum to me, and now I’m going through deportation proceedings,” Lopez said through an interpreter.
When asked why the asylum was refused, Lopez said, “They didn’t tell me why.”
He is married to a legal permanent U.S. resident named Mayra Canales, and has worked in construction to support her and her two U.S.-born children, one of which is autistic.
Lopez has been in deportation proceedings since a minor traffic stop, but will be allowed to stay as long as he is welcomed by the University Presbyterian Church near Mill and Broadway. The church said Lopez will always be welcomed.
The church’s pastor, Eric Ledermann, wants President Barack Obama to help Lopez and other people like him.
“We are calling on the administration to do what they can to fix our broken immigration system that is tearing families apart,” he said. “There are 1,000 deportations a day, many of them mothers and fathers.”
Lopez said he’s thankful to the church for allowing him to stay.
“It’s going to affect me a lot because of my children, but this is the place where I feel safer than being at home in Guatemala right now,” he said.
Mayra and the children will be staying with relatives for now, but Ledermann said they will be allowed to visit Lopez at the church anytime they want.
Last year, 36-year-old Mexican immigrant Daniel Neyoy Ruiz took sanctuary inside of a southern Arizona church after he was ordered to leave the United States.
Like Lopez, Neyoy Ruiz also had an American-born child.
“I want to be with my family to support them in everything I can,” he said in Spanish at the time. “I want to have a voice because it’s not just me. There are a lot of people like this.”
There is no law preventing immigration agents from taking a person claiming sanctuary into custody.
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy