ICE Won't Deport Illegal Immigrant Taking Refuge in US Church
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials claim they will not try to deport a Mexican national who violated an order to leave the U.S. The illegal immigrant apparently plans to remain in the church with his family until officials close his case.
According to the Tucson Sentinel, 36-year-old Daniel Neyoy Ruiz entered the U.S. illegally in 2000. Aside from his unlawful entry into the U.S., Ruiz allegedly has no criminal history. Authorities discovered he was in the country illegally when in 2011, Ruiz was pulled over for a traffic stop in Arizona.
After losing a series of court cases, Ruiz was ordered to leave the country. But rather than go back to Mexico, Ruiz took sanctuary inside Southside Presbyterian Church on May 13.
He currently remains in the church, which is located in Tucson, Arizona.
Ruiz has a 13-year-old son, who is an American citizen, according to the Tucson Sentinel. The son will apparently continue to attend school during the time the family stays at Southside Presbyterian.
Late last week, ICE spokeswoman Amber Cargile reportedly said, "After conducting a thorough review of Mr. Ruiz's immigration case, ICE has decided to exercise prosecutorial discretion by not taking immediate action on Mr. Ruiz's removal order."
Still, if Ruiz leaves the church, he could be apprehended by either ICE agents or border patrol.
A statement from ICE reportedly said, "By failing to depart within the time allotted under the terms of his voluntary departure order, Mr. Ruiz's voluntary departure order has automatically converted to a final order of removal."
Immigration rights activist Sarah Lanius told Fox News, "The long and short of it is that while it's certainly very comforting to know that the ICE removal operations don't plan on raiding the church and taking Daniel away, this move, while it's a small step, it's just that--a small step."
ICE's apparent leniency on Ruiz highlights inconsistencies in the federal government's approach to immigration enforcement.
On one hand, if the federal government is going to give amnesty to any illegal immigrant one would think it should be offered to someone like Ruiz--rather than convicted felon illegal immigrants, 36,000 of whom were set free on U.S. soil in 2013.
On the other hand, it is easy to surmise that this tactic for avoiding deportation is at risk of becoming highly abused by individuals in the U.S. illegally, attempting to dodge deportation. The fact that an illegal immigrant can avoid enforcement of federal law by taking refuge in a church sets a debatable precedent for immigration enforcement.
Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby revealed last year that "amnesty" shelters were widespread across Texas.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.