An undocumented father from Mexico who has a five-year-old son with cancer and a pregnant wife is due to be deported.
Jesus Berrones, who lives in Arizona with his wife and five children, was denied an extension to stay in America by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday and is scheduled to be deported on Monday.
The 30-year-old took refuge at the Shadow Rock United Church – a sanctuary church that provides a safe place for undocumented migrants – in Phoenix on Friday.
Mr Berrones plans to remain at the church until he is permitted a stay or finds a legal solution to his deportation. ICE is generally hesitant about entering churches to make immigration arrests.
His son Jayden is so terrified about the prospect of his father being deported that he refuses to leave his side at the church.
According to Mr Berrones, he was once discovered driving without a license. He has been deported twice – in 2006 and 2010 – and every time he came back to the US illegally.
Mr Berrones, who is the family’s sole breadwinner, even embarked on the dangerous crossing through the Arizona desert to be close to his wife and five children who are all American citizens.
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His son got leukaemia in 2016 and is currently in the process of going through chemotherapy. However the medication for his treatment is too toxic for his mother to administer.
“My wife cannot give him the pills because she’s pregnant,” Mr Berrones told CBS.
Sonia Berrones, his wife, said she is anxious about finding a job so she can subsist. She said: “His kids need him; I need him”.
In 2016, ICE gave Mr Berrones a stay of removal due to his son’s illness and last year he attempted to again apply to stay with ICE but was informed he was no longer a priority for deportation, according to his wife.
But last month ICE sent Mr Berrones, whose wife says he was brought to the US by his parents in 1989 when he was just a year old, a deportation notice and despite him filing for another stay he was denied.
Mr Berrones fails to meet the requirements of a so-called “Dreamer” and he would have to leave America for a decade if he wanted to apply for a green card.
Mr Berrones said: “I don’t have DUI. I haven’t killed nobody.”