Wednesday, December 24, 2014

After 3 Months in Sanctuary, Father of 5 Won't Be Deported, Will Join Family for Christmas

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 3:04 PM

click to enlarge Francisco and his 11-month-old daughter. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Francisco and his 11-month-old daughter.


A few hours ago, after 90 days living in sanctuary at a Tucson church, Francisco Perez Cordova walked out of there relieved to know his deportation order had been gutted.

Francisco is the father of five U.S. citizen children and has no criminal background, making him eligible for President Obama’s deferred action for parents program. He gets to stay in the country with a work permit for the next three years - and we’ll see what happens from there.

Francisco was placed in removal proceedings in 2009. A family member called the Pima County Sheriff Department to report a burglary. Instead of looking into the crime, the deputies reported the family to Border Patrol.

At noon today, Francisco stood at the podium of the worship room inside St. Francis United Methodist Church, and thanked supporters for the overwhelming warmth during the three months he sat and waited to hopefully hear he’d get to stay home with his wife and children.

“You guys have a special part of my heart,” he said, while his two toddlers played on the carpet behind him. The words and tears were simultaneous. “You changed my whole life. When I came here, I was so scared of what was going to happen, how long…It was so difficult to come here and leave my family.”

I spoke to his wife, Sarai Milla, after the ceremony for a couple of minutes outside.

“I feel so happy, blessed by God, my children are going to have their father at home,” she said in Spanish. “More than gifts, more than toys, for Christmas they wanted their father to be with us.”

Yesterday, Arizona officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally decided to close Francisco’s case. This is about a month after Obama announced his immigration changes.

His attorney, Margo Cowan, had an issue with the wait. In a statement, she said ICE refused to kill the removal, even knowing that Francisco qualified to stay.
click to enlarge The Rev. Jim Wiltbank asks Francisco to say a few words. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • The Rev. Jim Wiltbank asks Francisco to say a few words.
She was at the church today, alongside Francisco’s family, the Rev. Jim Wiltbank and a big room full of community supporters, to celebrate Francisco’s departure a day before Christmas.

“I went to my house, slept in my bed, saw my family…Now, I get to say good-bye so that you can go home and sleep in your bed, and be in your house and be with your family and I could not be happier…that is such a joy for me,” said Wiltbank, who’s been at Francisco’s side day in and day out since he asked for sanctuary.

While thrilled that Francisco is safe, Cowan and others reminded us that about 900,000 people live with fear should their deportation orders solidify and they are forced to leave families, friends and entire lives on this side of the border.

“We must broaden our concept of sanctuary, to a universal concept, our barrios must be sanctuaries, our homes must be sanctuaries, our workplaces…our schools must be sanctuaries, our community must be safe,” Cowan said.

Not too far from St. Francis, a mother of two, Rosa Robles Loreto, is still in sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church. She doesn’t qualify for Obama’s relief.

Her husband and two kids were at today’s celebration. They brought Francisco red roses to congratulate him in Rosa’s name.

Cowan, who is also Rosa’s attorney, pleaded the Department of Homeland Security to also let her stay. It’s been more than four months since Rosa moved into Southside Presbyterian.

What’s next for Francisco’s family? Sarai said they want to go on a family vacation. “Maybe take the kids to Disney World…”

I will hopefully be catching up with Francisco and his family in about a month to see how life after sanctuary is treating them.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments (12)

Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-12 of 12

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
PiYo Strength Class

PiYo Strength Class @ Floor Polish

Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

Tucson International Mariachi Conference

The Tucson International Mariachi Conference was created to pass mariachi traditions to the next generation. 4/26 @… More

@ AVA: Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater Thu., April 26, 6-8 p.m., Fri., April 27, 7-9 p.m. and Sat., April 28, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road.

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. Eve of a Strike: Teachers and Districts Prep To Walk out of Schools This Week (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Conservatives Told: Keep Criticizing Teachers, But Not About Their Pay or Perks (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Catalina Brewing Beers Good News for Striking Teachers (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. The Strike Is On: Arizona Teachers Prepared for Walkout Next Week (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Antigone Books To Be Sold to Three Employees (If They Can Raise Some More Cash) (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation