- (Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)
An immigrant who has been living in a Tucson church to avoid deportation has been able to safely leave the religious sanctuary after he was granted a year-long stay in his forced return back to Mexico.
Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, 36, had been living at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson with his wife and 13-year-old son since May to avoid deportation back to Mexico. A highway patrolman reported Ruiz to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency back in 2011, when it was revealed he had no legal status in the U.S. after he was pulled over for an excessively smoky exhaust pipe on his car.
Ruiz and his family then sought refuge at the Southside Presbyterian Church in May after he was contacted by the federal immigration agency and ordered to return to Mexico. According to NPR, the church Ruiz chose has a history of helping immigrants, as it served as a shelter to Central American immigrants in the early 1980's.
Ruiz then appealed his forced deportation, arguing that he had lived in the U.S. for 14 years, maintained a steady job, and had a U.S.-born son with his wife, Karla, who came to America in 2000. Ruiz's predicament gained a social media following, and according to KGUN-9, several supporters of Ruiz contacted the Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Homeland Security, arguing that Ruiz should not be separated from his family.
Although denied a stay in deportation twice before, Ruiz found out this week that his request had been approved. He now has a permit that says he is legally allowed to stay in the U.S. for one year, and he can apply to renew the permit next May.
"I just began to cry," Ruiz told the Arizona Daily Star Monday afternoon, as he was photographed leaving the church with his family. "And I hugged everyone who is here at the church. I can leave at any time. I have some things I need to finish at the church, but I feel completely secure to go, to leave."
Ruiz previously explained to The Daily Beast that he didn't want to return to Mexico, as he is from the Sinaloa state, home to the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel. "I am from a neighborhood where there are many bad people. I want my son to go to high school and university. I don't want him to see what happens there."
Carlos, Ruiz's son, added to Tucson News Now that he is pleased his father gets to stay in the U.S. "I feel great that the government did what was right. I just want to say thank you to everybody who helped my dad stay here."
The stay recently granted to Ruiz follows an announcement in March when President Obama requested the Department of Homeland Security review the nation's immigration policies "to see how it can conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law."