A group of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) staff and friends stood Tuesday as part of a national solidarity campaign to support Rosa Robles Loreto, the wife and mother who has spent eight months in sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona.
“Rosa is in a very difficult situation right now. She’s been living at that church for eight months because she has a final order of deportation,” said Teresa Waggener, coordinator for Immigration Issues and an Assistant Stated Clerk for the PC(USA). “We all know her to be our sister and our neighbor and we love her, and we are not going to stand still.”
“We are going to speak out for her in this way and in others … so that she can one day leave that church confident that she will not be separated from her family,” Waggener said. “We urge as many people as possible to join the ‘We Stand With Rosa’ campaign and to seek comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families united.”
Loreto has been a Tucson resident for fifteen years and has no criminal record, yet deportation proceedings were started against her after a traffic stop. The little league mom took refuge inside the grounds of Southside Presbyterian in August 2014 after receiving a final order to be deported back to her home country of Mexico, and she has been there ever since.
Southside has a long history of providing shelter and aid to undocumented people in the United States, and is working tirelessly as a congregation and ecumenically to have Loreto’s deportation order dismissed. It also has been on the forefront of the new Sanctuary 2014 movement to cover and protect the scores of undocumented people nationwide who are at risk of deportation.
The “We Stand With Rosa” campaign calls on people to download a “We Stand With Rosa” sign and display it prominently in their homes, businesses, and places of worship. The effort also asks people to take photos of themselves with the sign and share it on social media with the hashtag #LetRosaStay.
“Comprehensive immigration reform remains a challenge and gains made by President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration are at risk of being lost,” said Waggener, an immigration attorney.
“Still, I’m hopeful because right now there are community leaders and church leaders who are very active in advocating for better laws and stepping up for individuals who need assistance,” she said.
“My hope for those churches and community leaders who are just now getting involved is that they take bold steps by doing such things as hosting legal clinics and know-your-rights events, and that they show hospitality and build relationships with individuals within their communities who need help.”