Feb 13, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

Father Of Child With Leukemia Avoids Deportation After Seeking Sanctuary In Church

After seeking sanctuary in a church and saying he needed to remain in the United States to support his wife and children, including a 5-year-old son with leukemia, Jesus Berrones was granted a last-minute stay of deportation on Monday.

Berrones, 30, was brought to the United States with his parents when he was one year old, and has been staying at the Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix since Friday.

Just before a scheduled meeting to plan his return to Mexico, Berrones said he received word late in the afternoon that he had been granted a one-year stay. A statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office read, "In an exercise of discretion, ICE has granted Jesus Armando Berrones-Balderas a one-year stay of removal on humanitarian grounds."

Shadow Rock is one of several churches in the U.S. which allow some immigrants facing deportation to remain at their sanctuaries until situations are resolved.

"Sending him back to Mexico would be sending him back to a country he doesn't even know," said Berrones' attorney Garrett Wilkes before the stay was issued. Under the administration of President Donald Trump, "there is a mentality of deport now, ask questions later," he added.

Berrones' 24-year-old wife, Sonia Garcia, and their children are American citizens. Their son Jayden was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and is undergoing a three-year course of chemotherapy.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Garcia reportedly cannot work because she must be available to take Jayden to his many medical appointments. Before her husband's stay had been granted, she had worried how the family would survive without his salary from his job cleaning air conditioning ducts.

"My hopes are that everything's going to be well," Garcia said before the stay was issued. "I leave it all in God's hands."

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