On Sept. 25 Francisco Córdoba entered into Sanctuary at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz., after the threat of deportation had been looming over his family's life for eight long months.
It has been an honor for those of us here at St. Francis to receive the blessing of Francisco and his family and to offer them a place where they can begin to see a solution to our broken immigration system. It was even more important that we receive the amazing blessing that they bring to us.
St. Francis, Francisco’s family, and his community are stronger with Francisco in their lives. In coming to Sanctuary, Francisco has temporarily left a vibrant daily life centered on family, co-workers, church, and neighbors — relationships that would be severed forever were he to be deported. The toll of potential deportation is all too clear since Francisco took Sanctuary, leaving the daily task of running their family home solely in the hands of his wife Sarai. She has risen to that task boldly, but the challenge of taking care of their five children is enormous. Getting the three older children, Emanuel, Daniel Caleb, and Noemi off to school every day would be difficult enough, but she must do that while continuing to care for her two babies, 2-year-old Atlai and 10-month-old Rahel. The loss of her husband's daily presence in their homelife leaves Sarai without the support of her life partner. While Francisco still sees his family almost every day, he has interrupted his usual life in an effort to stop a potential permanent separation from his wife and children.
For more than a month, Francisco has been trapped on the campus of St. Francis even though he is considered a low priority for deportation. He has no criminal history and has proven himself to be a stable and valued member of our community. He has been employed at the same job for years, working full-time and paying his taxes faithfully. This order of deportation stands in the way of him being able to continue to nurture and love his family and see his children grow into adulthood. A simple stay of deportation would open the doors of possibility for this wonderful family.
We urge you to support options that would keep families together and help the 11 million undocumented people who are part of our congregations and communities.
Jim Wiltbank is pastor at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church in Tuscon, Ariz.
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