Episcopal leaders help stop deportation

Two Episcopal faith leaders joined other California clergy to stop the deportation of immigrant Jaiderman DeLeon — a father of three — to Guatemala from where he fled political persecution over 15 years ago. Br. Juniper Rosenberry and the Rev. Richard Smith, St. John the Evangelist, San Francisco, joined an August 5 press conference at the San Francisco office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where they delivered a letter from over 50 multi-religious California clergy supporting DeLeon and his family.

Three weeks prior, after denying his request for political asylum, ICE took DeLeon from his family to the West County Detention Center in Richmond, California. After the clergy who signed the support letter — all members of PICO California — demanded his release, ICE allowed him to return home. ICE, however, required him to wear a monitoring ankle bracelet while his deportation proceedings continue.

In seeking DeLeon’s deportation, ICE is defying White House guidelines for “prosecutorial discretion,” the clergy and legal experts insist. Those guidelines restrict deportation to undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. DeLeon has no criminal record. Moreover, the clergy assert, he has worked hard to support his family and pay taxes during his many years in the United States.

“Jaiderman is a strong faith leader in the Mormon Church in Daly City where he looks after other church families and leads the Boy Scouts,” said the Rev. Smith. “He works hard, pays his taxes, and does not have a criminal record. He is exactly the kind of aspiring American who should easily qualify for an earned path to citizenship. In addition, Jaiderman is a caring father of three children, two of whom are US citizens. If he is deported, his children will suffer extreme financial hardship. We owe it to our fellow citizens to ensure that their father is not ripped away from them.”

DeLeon’s case is now under review by ICE, though no date has been offered for their decision. As the case is reviewed, ICE has said it will take into consideration the points made about DeLeon both in the clergy’s letter and press conference. Updates will follow as they are available.

Photos: Bro. Juniper Rosenberry, SSF and the Rev. Richard Smith at press conference outside Immigration offices in San Francisco. Photos by Lorena Melgarejo.