Immigrant Father Who Took Sanctuary Inside Lutheran Church in Seattle for Over a Year is Detained by ICE

Jose Robles, stands with his family and lawyer as he prepares to walk in to the ICE offices in Tukwila, Wash. on July 17, 2019. The undocumented father of three was at risk of deportation and had been taking refuge at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle for the last year. On Wednesday, with a crowd of community support, Robles marched to ICE offices to request a stay of removal. He was arrested instead. (Photo by Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut)

A father who took refuge inside a Lutheran church in downtown Seattle more than a year ago after facing deportation orders has been detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency after he tried to seek a stay of removal on Wednesday.

Jose Robles had rarely stepped outside of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle during the time he took refuge there, according to The Seattle Times.

However, on Wednesday he decided that it was time to present himself to ICE, with the Mexican national marching from the church with his wife and two daughters and a number of supporters, to a Department of Homeland Security building in Tukwila a mile away.

According to journalist Dorothy Edwards, who documented the march, Robles had hoped to be granted a stay of removal from ICE, postponing his deportation. “I’m hoping to walk out and thank everybody,” Robles had said, according to the Times.

Instead of walking out free, within half an hour Robles’ lawyer, Sandy Restrepo, stepped out of the building to inform everyone that her client had been detained.

It is unclear why Robles made the decision to present himself to ICE when he did. However, the move came following a weekend of small-scale ICE operations throughout the U.S. seeking to arrest undocumented immigrants.

While ICE’s operations were nowhere near on the scale of the widespread raids that were expected to take place across the country, immigrant communities were left fearful by the agency’s plans, with some families describing how they sat in their homes with the lights out, pretending they weren’t home as ICE agents knocked on their doors.

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SOURCE: Newsweek, Chantal Da Silva