Immigration authorities granted an immigrant father of a child battling cancer in Phoenix a last-minute stay after facing deportation.
Jesus Berrones was going to meet with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday for immediate deportation back to Mexico but ICE said on Monday afternoon he was granted a one-year stay “on humanitarian grounds.”
ICE said Berrones remains in the agency’s Alternatives to Detention program, which means he has to regularly check-in with ICE.
The 30-year-old took refuge inside the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ Church in Phoenix on Friday and CBS News said cheers erupted when his lawyer told him he was granted a stay and a one-year work permit.
“I will fight to stay here,” Berrones had told CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez.
Berrones was brought to Arizona as a toddler in 1989. Now 30, Berrones takes care of his five children and a pregnant wife.
Berrones doesn’t meet the requirements of a so-called “Dreamer.” To even apply for a green card, he would first have to leave the U.S. for 10 years.
In 2006, Berrones was deported after being caught driving with a fake driver’s license, Huffington Post reported. Berrones re-entered the country illegally twice after deportation and in 2016 ICE allowed him to stay because of his son’s illness.
His son, Jayden, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2016 and is scared to leave Berrones’ side.
Berrones is the only breadwinner in his household and the only parent who can administer his son’s medicine because the treatments are too toxic for his wife to handle while pregnant.
“My wife cannot give him the pills because she’s pregnant,” Berrones said.
Last year, he attempted to file a stay but was told by ICE that he was no longer a deportation priority.
After receiving the letter in January, Berrones filed another request to stay longer, but it was denied on Thursday.
But not everyone is happy with Monday’s decision to allow Berrones to stay in the country. Hardliners say that everyone must follow the law and when we start bending the rules, it creates even more problems.
Berrones’ immigration case comes at the same time lawmakers in Washington D.C. are beginning an open-ended discussion about immigration. President Donald Trump said he was open to helping young immigrants who were brought here as children in exchange for $25 billion for his proposed border wall.
The pastor at Shadow Rock believes Berrones should stay.
“He shouldn’t be prosecuted,” Shadow Rock’s Rev. Ken Heintzelman, said to Bojorquez. “He should be lifted up, used as an example of what it means to be a father.”
Shadow Rock is one of hundreds of congregations across the country that are considered “sanctuary churches” and open their doors to undocumented immigrants.
According to Garrett Wilkes, Berrones’ lawyer, they are considering filing a petition arguing Berrones was not granted the proper opportunity to go before an immigration judge in 2006. Wilkes said Berrones plans on living at the church until he is granted a stay or they find a legal resolution.