Immigrant approaches two months in sanctuary of Tempe church

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake are asking the president not to take executive action on immigration. They want the border secure and current immigration laws enforced first.

But local immigration activists want action now. Luis Lopez came from Guatemala and legally worked here for years. He has now lived at University Presbyterian Church in Tempe for almost two months to avoid deportation.

“Hi, my name is Mira,” his wife, Mira Canales, said through an interpreter at a press conference outside ICE headquarters in downtown Phoenix. “As you know, right now, my husband has been in sanctuary for almost two months after we asked ICE to give him a stay of removal. They still haven't done so."

Canales wants her husband to be able to come home without fear that he'll be deported. Lopez sought sanctuary Sept. 4 at the church. At the time, they all anticipated the president was on the verge of granting deferred action to people like him.

“All we have is the hope,” Canales said. “And the hope that something is going to happen and that Obama will make the right decision and that people can actually stay with their families.”

No one knows if the president will take executive action, what that action might look like or when it might happen.

The Rev. Eric Ledermann and his congregation at University Presbyterian say Lopez is welcome to stay as long as he has to but admits the original decision wasn’t unanimous.

“Our congregation is not united,” Ledermann said. “We've been wrestling with this decision that our leaders made. The vast majority of our congregation is supportive, but there are those struggling with it.”

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