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Mesa man seeks sanctuary at University Presbyterian Church
Community calls for DHS to halt deportation of Luis Lopez-Acabal
WHAT: Press Conference – Luis Lopez, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, and Rev. Eric O. Ledermann will provide statements. Area clergy will offer prayers and blessing for Lopez-Acabal and family.
WHERE: University Presbyterian Church at 139 E. Alameda Dr. • Tempe, AZ 85282-3597
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 4th at 9:30am MST
WHAT: Declaration of Sanctuary—Faith leaders and community members will welcome Luis Lopez and his family into sanctuary.
WHERE: University Presbyterian Church, 139 E. Alameda Dr. Tempe, AZ 85282-3597
WHEN: September 4th, 6:30PM MST
Tempe, AZ: Luis has been in deportation proceedings as a result of a minor traffic incident. On July 7, 2014, his attorney submitted a request for a stay of removal to keep Luis in the United States with his wife and children, but that request has been denied by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), despite matching the agency’s own “low priority” criteria for removal. He now lives under the threat of immediate deportation. At a press conference at 9:30am, Rev. Eric O. Ledermann will discuss his congregation’s call to stand with and support the Lopez-Acabal family so that they may remain together. Luis Lopez’s attorney Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado will provide background on Mr. Lopez-Acabal’s immigration case and the political implications of ICE’s unwillingness to allow Mr. Lopez-Acabal a stay of removal. Luis Lopez-Acabal and his wife Mayra Canales, will offer personal testimony about their circumstances.
At 6:30 PM faith leaders and community advocates will gather to welcome Luis Lopez into Sanctuary at University Presbyterian Church. This is the third church in the last 3 months to open their doors to protect a family under threat of deportation and separation—Rosa Robles Loreto is currently in sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. Supporters and advocacy organizations are calling on Jon Gurule, the Acting Field Office Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations, Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to use his discretion to issue a stay of deportation or enact other means to halt Lopez-Acabal’s deportation. Until that time, Luis Lopez will remain in sanctuary at University Presbyterian Church.
Luis Lopez-Acabal fled to the United States from Guatemala as an unaccompanied minor at the age of 16 to escape gang violence, and has been in the US for seven years. He is the husband of Mayra Canales, a legal permanent resident, who has struggled with depression and anxiety for many years. Mr. Lopez has taken in his wife’s two US citizen children, one of whom has autism, as his own, and both of whom consider him their father. Mr. Lopez is the sole breadwinner, which allows his wife Mayra to act as full time caregiver for their autistic son. In addition to his financial support, the emotional support he provides for his wife and children cannot be measured.
The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, pastor of University Presbyterian Church, says, “A number of texts in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures command God’s people to welcome the stranger from foreign lands living among them, for God’s people were once strangers in a foreign land.” He further states, “Splitting up families, as the U.S. immigration policies currently are doing, violates the Christian value of family that so many politicians use to bolster their campaigns. As a people of faith we are compelled to intervene and insure that this family will stay together.”
Now in the midst of our broken immigration system, faith communities like University Presbyterian Church feel they must once again demonstrate prophetic leadership and action to keep families together, to keep parents with their children, to protect our brothers and sisters like Luis Lopez, to demand the Obama administration enact affirmative administrative relief through deferred action for all undocumented people.
We are asking Secretary Jeh Johnson and President Obama to grant deferred action for Luis Lopez today. We are also asking the administration to do justice and create the opportunity for the millions who want to stay united with their families through expanding deferred action now.