A family’s home should be a sanctuary, a place where the troubles of the day are left at the door and we find shelter in the comfort and love of our family. But for too many in our community, the sanctity of the home has been violated by our broken immigration system, which is tearing families apart, families like Daniel Neyoy Ruiz’s.
Neyoy Ruiz and his wife, Karla, came to this country seeking what we all seek — a better life. They have lived in Tucson for the past 14 years; in those years they had a son, Carlos; they have paid taxes. More importantly, they have become an integral part of our community.
In 2011 the happiness they found here began to unravel when Neyoy Ruiz was stopped by the Department of Public Safety. Though no citation was issued, the Border Patrol was called and their nightmare began. Facing a final deportation order, this past Tuesday Neyoy Ruiz entered into sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church.
Offering sanctuary to Neyoy Ruiz was something we prayerfully and carefully considered because we do not take this action lightly. As one of the founding churches of the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, we know there are risks involved and we know there is a great deal of work ahead as we reorient the life of our church around caring for this family.
We also know that in times such as these, we are called by our faith in Jesus Christ to act on behalf of those who suffer. Throughout scriptures, people of faith are called to care for the orphan and the widow, but when it is a broken immigration system that is creating orphans and widows, we need to start intervening sooner. Across the nation communities of faith are doing just that by opening their hearts and doors to undocumented and mixed status families.
With 1,100 people being deported each day, we cannot stand by and wait for Congress to act so people of faith are committing themselves to stand in solidarity with the immigrant community and are joining in the chorus of voices across our nation calling out, “not one more!”
Last Thursday, ICE officials stated they won’t actively seek Neyoy Ruiz’s deportation but that doesn’t mean he is able to safely return home as a minor traffic stop could result in him being torn away from the family he loves so much.
Though much has changed in our nation since we first opened our doors as a sanctuary for refugees fleeing civil wars in Central America during the 1980s, much has stayed the same.
The war against the poor and the undocumented rages on. God continues to call the church to be faithful to its commands to welcome the foreigner, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.
Faithful to that call, we have once again opened our doors but more importantly our hearts to the Neyoy Ruiz family. We know sanctuary is not just about finding refuge within the walls of a church; it is about finding shelter in the love and support of a community. Until immigration officials close Neyoy Ruiz’s deportation case, he will remain within the sanctuary of our church and within the loving shelter of the community.