Members of both the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor communities have come together to oppose the potential deportation of Jose Luis Sanchez-Ronquillo, an undocumented 19-year resident of Ann Arbor and father of two children. Sanchez-Ronquillo was also scheduled for deportation in 2014, but received a one-year stay of removal following a letter-writing campaign.
Hoping to receive another stay, Sanchez-Ronquillo went to immigration court Wednesday to place a request, but was instead detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Since then, according to MLive, he has been held at the St. Clair County Jail in Port Huron; his family fears he could be deported to Mexico on Tuesday without a trial.
Since receiving news of his potential deportation, the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program, a University student organization dedicated to helping refugees in the resettlement process, has been advocating for a trial for Sanchez-Ronquillo by contacting lawmakers and requesting he not be deported before getting his day in court. LSA junior Zoe Proegler, the incoming president of MRAP, said such public campaigns have been effective in the past.
"The call right now is basically just to make noise about the issue,” she said. “A lot of times in the past, public outcry has been able to make a difference on these sorts of issues. Of course, this is a different political time, and we’re dealing with a different administration with different policy priorities, but what we can do right now is just advocate for due process in his case. He has lawyers who are prepared to present a case that he should be allowed to stay, but as he's in detention right now. He may be deported before receiving that day in court.”
In a message to the Daily, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D–Ann Arbor) said Sanchez-Ronquillo's deportation was representative of a large problem in the United States.
"This is part of a broader crisis for our community and our whole nation," he wrote. "It is heart wrenching when members of our community are torn away from us and from their families. These folks are good community members who pay their taxes and participate in our community's economic success. So with this case in particular, many of these same factors are at play. Mr. Ronquillo is part of this community."
Laura Sanders, founder of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said in a 2014 interview with MLive Sanchez-Ronquillo had been working at the same local restaurant for at least 10 years, and was the primary financial provider for his family of four.
In a series of Facebook posts, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor called on residents to contact their lawmakers as well as the Detroit ICE field office and request a temporary stay on Sanchez-Ronquillo's deportation, so that a judge could hear an emergency motion from his lawyers.
"Mr. Sanchez-Ronquillo has been in the United States for almost 20 years, has no criminal record, and is not held on criminal charges,” Taylor wrote. “He is a valued, hard-working, contributing member of our community. Mr. Sanchez-Ronquillo’s deportation will not make us safer, will not protect American jobs; all it will achieve is to devastate a warm home and impoverish a family. A great and strong nation would not be afraid to allow Mr. Sanchez-Ronquillo to remain."