Juan Rodriguez’ wife and daughters filed a lawsuit in federal court in Houston urging that he cannot be deported because doing so would violate the family’s religious rights. The Rodriguez family are Seventh-Day Adventists and claim their religion requires the family to stay together.
Immigration officials informed Rodriguez that he is scheduled to be deported on June 29. On Monday, the El Salvadoran’s wife and three daughters filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency.
The plaintiffs are asking for a declaratory judgment and for injunctive relief to stop Rodriguez’ deportation. They urge that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should apply to the Rodriquez family who are United States citizens. One of their lawyers told Breitbart Texas that this legal argument has never been made in an immigration case.
David M. Medina, a former justice on the Supreme Court of Texas, was one of the lawyers that filed the federal complaint.
Rodriguez has lived in Houston with his family for over 20 years, and he has been working as an auto mechanic. He pays taxes and has a work visa and has been reporting to ICE, the lawsuit states. His eldest daughter is a naturalized citizen, and the other two girls are citizens by birth. His wife became a citizen in 2010.
Rodriguez’ wife and children say the family will move back to El Salvador if their father is removed. They urge that if he gets deported it would amount to “a de facto religious deportation” of them.
“If he goes, we go, and I’m willing to do it for my family,” said his 18-year-old daughter Karen Rodriguez, reported KHOU 11.
The lawsuit states:
President Donald J. Trump campaigned on the notion that if elected, he would deport the “bad hombres,” undocumented immigrants who had committed serious and violent crimes while in the U.S. … Mr. Rodriguez is anything but the “bad hombres” that Candidate Donald Trump, now President Trump, presumably wants to keep out of our country.”
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina told Breitbart Texas, “Deporting the spiritual leader and sole financial provider, and a loving father who pays taxes and has committed no crimes in the U.S., tears at the fabric of our country.” He added, “It also tears at the fabric of our great land and at the loving and religious culture of immigrant families throughout the history of the United States. Such a potential is a travesty and inconsistent with the Judeo-Christian values upon which this great nation was founded.”
The RFRA recently served as one of the arguments used to obtain a block to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting travel from enumerated Middle East countries. The Act was also successfully argued in the Hobby Lobby case to protect the company from having to pay for abortion-related birth control. In the Hobby Lobby case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the RFRA prohibits the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless the government demonstrates a compelling governmental interest and it is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest.
Lawyers for Rodriguez’ wife and daughters filed a 38-page memorandum of law in support of their application for a preliminary injunction.
Raed Gonzalez, Rodriguez’ immigration attorney, told Breitbart Texas that he filed a Motion to Reopen and Request for Stay of Deportation with the Immigration Court on Friday. Gonzalez has asked for asylum. Among other arguments, the immigration lawyers urge that “El Salvador presently is in an untenable state of civil strife amounting to a humanitarian disaster of homicide and other violence, and an ineffective government that has done little to resolve the crisis.” There has been a vast change in the country since his family was in El Salvador.
The immigration lawyer told Breitbart Texas that the Trump administration’s policy is “so black and white nobody knows what it means.” Gonzalez wishes to bring these legal issues to the attention of the new federal administration, including A.G. Jeff Sessions, he said.