An undocumented immigrant father who entered sanctuary in a Tucson church to avoid deportation for the second time will get to go home again.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials granted Daniel Neyoy Ruiz, 37, another one-year stay of deportation after his first stay expired on June 10th.
Neyoy Ruiz quietly took sanctuary in Tucson’s First Christian Church earlier this month. The church planned a public announcement for Daniel’s re-entering into sanctuary on Thursday.
But ICE officials threw him a lifeline hours before the event was to take place, informing him that his stay would be renewed.
“After conducting another review of Mr. Neyoy-Ruiz’s immigration case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has granted Mr. Neyoy-Ruiz an additional one-year stay of removal. At the end of that period, ICE will re-evaluate the case to determine the appropriate next steps,” said ICE spokesperson Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe in a statement.
Pitts O’Keefe said factors like criminal history, immigration history, family and community ties and humanitarian issues contributed to the decision.
Dozens showed up to First Christian Church to celebrate the news with Neyoy-Ruiz and his family.
“We are celebrating today that ICE recognized what we have long known. That families should not be torn apart,” said the Rev. Alison Harrington.
Ruiz said he had woken up that morning feeling nervous.
“Now I feel much better,” he said. “I feel very, very happy.”
His ordeal began in 2011, when he was pulled over because his car’s exhaust was smoking. The officer called U.S. Border Patrol when Neyoy-Ruiz presented a Mexican driver’s license.
After being detained and undergoing years of litigation in immigration court, he was ultimately ordered to leave the country.
“It’s sad because we are people who also feel sadness. We have families that depend on us. And they treat us as criminals,” Neyoy-Ruiz said.
He moved into Tucson’s Southside Presbyterian Church to avoid deportation last year and, after a month living in the church, ICE granted his first reprieve in June 2014.
Neyoy-Ruiz first came to Tucson 15 years ago with his wife, Karla. He is technically eligible for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents (DAPA) because his 13-year old son, Carlos, is a U.S. citizen. However, a federal judge in Texas blocked DAPA in February—leaving Neyoy-Ruiz and thousands of others in limbo.
He hopes he will finally be given a chance to permanently live in the U.S. when his one-year stay is up.
“I have all the papers that they request in order to be able to close this case. So I just hope that this year that can happen,” Neyoy-Ruiz said.
He had a message for other immigrants in sanctuary like Rosa Robles Loreto, an undocumented mother who has been living in a Tucson church for 10 months.
“I want to tell them to keep fighting for their dream. Because without fighting, then there’s nothing,” he said. “And that’s what people did for me, also.”