Immigrant In Tucson Leaves Sanctuary In Time For Christmas

By Kate Sheehy
December 25, 2014
Kate Sheehy
Francisco Perez Cordova and his family at St. Francis in the Foothills Church in Tucson. Cordova was in sanctuary here for almost 100 days.

TUCSON — Another undocumented immigrant in Arizona left sanctuary Wednesday. The man had been seeking protection from deportation at St. Francis in the Foothills Church in Tucson for several months.

He may qualify for temporary legal status under President Barack Obama’s Executive Action, but that's not the reason he’s headed home for the holidays. 

Francisco Perez Cordova and his family did not think they would be spending Christmas together at home this year. They found out after almost 100 days in sanctuary, he can now live without the fear of deportation.

“So this is the best Christmas for me,” Cordova said.

After living here for almost 20 years, Cordova said the United States is his home. 

“Now I love more Tucson than Mexico. Because most of my life I’ve been here now. My kids they’re born here,” he said.

In 2009 Cordova was present when his brother-in-law reported a robbery to police. Border Patrol was called and checked IDs. Both men were taken into custody for being in the country illegally.

Margo Cowan, Francisco’s attorney, said when he initially tried to fight his case, he had inadequate representation. 

“Remedies that might have been available to him at that time were not exhausted,” she said.

She said for this reason, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has agreed to sign a joint motion with Cowan that Cordova’s case should be considered for closure. Now the Board of Immigration Appeals will review his case and make a decision in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, Cowan said Cordova has a letter to carry stating that he is no longer subject to removal. Also, she said his file has been updated with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to reflect the change in his status. 

A spokesperson for ICE confirmed the agreement and said the decision has nothing to do with Cordova’s eligibility under the president’s Executive Action. 

“There are 900,000 people in the United States with final orders of removal, and the vast majority of those people are mothers and fathers like Francisco,” Cowan said.

She said their cases deserve to be closed as well. Many of them may qualify, as Cowan said Cordova does, as unauthorized parents of U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident children to receive temporary work permits.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are close to four million people who fall into this category under the new immigration order.