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May 14, 2014 12:17 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Migrant facing deportation seeks sanctuary at Tucson church

TUCSON - A migrant who has lived in Tucson for nearly 15 years is refusing to voluntarily go back to Mexico.

In an effort to keep his family together Daniel Neyoy Ruiz is taking sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church.

The human rights group No More Deaths invited the media to film Ruiz's arrival. They hope Homeland Security will close his case, allowing him to stay.

"Their story was very compelling to us, a tragic story about a family being ripped apart," says Pastor Alison Harrington.

Members of Southside Presbyterian opened their doors and hearts to Ruiz, his wife and 13 year old son.

"This church was one of the founding churches of the sanctuary movement, back in the 1980s," says Pastor Harrington. "So we have a long legacy of extending hospitality and welcome."

At midnight Tuesday Ruiz's voluntary departure automatically becomes an order of removal, according to his attorney. But immigration officials are not likely to take enforcement action at a place of worship.

"Daniel is the kind of guy that contributes to the Tucson community, he contributes to his church, he contributes to his job, he's active in his son's school," says attorney Margo Cowan. "He deserves to stay."

Ruiz's son Carlos Neyoy says, "My dad is happy because of all the support people in this congregation are giving him."

In a statement emailed to News 4 Tucson, Amber Cargile with Immigration and Customs Enforcement says, "ICE is conducting a comprehensive review of Mr. Ruiz's case to determine appropriate next steps at this time."

Cowan says, "I think we'll know something in the next couple of days, I'm told they're considering our request."

Ruiz's wife Karla Neyoy says, "thank you for all the people who are with us, helping us, praying for us, so he isn't sent to Mexico."

Pastor Harrington says the Ruiz family will be allowed to remain at the church until justice is done.

We'll be sure to pass along any developments.

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