Emotions were running high outside ICE headquarters off Central Avenue and Palm Street in Phoenix on Wednesday, as a Valley father went to his scheduled check-in appointment with ICE officials.
Marco Tulio Coss was surrounded by supporters from Shadow Rock United church of Christ, immigrant advocates from Promise, Arizona, and neighborhood ministries. They prayed and sang outside the building, as Coss walked in with his attorney, Ravi Arora.
Supporters said Coss had been living and working in the United States for 18 years. He had honored his ICE appointments and complied with ICE policy multiple times according to Coss and his attorney.
He was given an order for deportation, but was allowed to stay in the country and work as long as he showed up for his appointments. This happened after a traffic stop in 2009, when Coss said he was pulled over and arrested for driving without a license.
"Sure, he broke a law, a traffic violation, but deportation and separation from his family is a severe consequence for that," said Reverend Ken Heintzelman, the pastor of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ, that had offered Coss sanctuary if he needed it.
"Today is different. Enforcement of policy has become more aggressive and punitive, there is no prosecutorial discretion," said Heintzelman.
He stressed their church's mission was to seek immigration reform in a system that was broken, and they supported the detention of violent and dangerous undocumented offenders.
Coss got a break today, as ICE officials gave his attorney 30 more days to file a "stay of removal" and asylum for their client.
Arora said they had learned that Coss has been worried because his brother was killed in the violence in Sonora, Mexico and he does not feel safe returning there. Arora added that in the past, this type of case would not even have been an issue, but now the new administration was enforcing all "orders of removal" without looking at the full picture.
"The ICE office here has actually been as reasonable as they can be considering they're bound by the new orders from the Trump administration. They did agree to give him 30 days to get his affairs in order. We are now filing a stay of removal. If they grant it, we can get another order of supervision. I just spoke to the ICE officer, they are sympathetic to people in Marco's position," said Arora.
Coss said he came to the United States to find a better life for himself, and his family and to escape the violence in Sonora, Mexico. He said he had nothing to return to there.
"My life is here. I stay here for 18 years now, I come when I was 18. I'm going to stay and fight my case. I don't want to go back to Mexico," said Coss.
He is expected to show up for another check in with ICE on May 12th.
An ICE spokeswoman released this statement today:
"All reporting requirements for those checking in with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are determined on a case by case basis. The frequency and duration are dependent on many factors including, but not limited to, pending appeals or petitions, issuance of travel documents, or future hearings before an immigration judge.
Aliens on the non-detained docket may be subject to various forms of supervision, such as reporting requirements, travel restrictions, and enrollment in the Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Program (including telephonic reporting or Global Positioning System monitoring). The appropriate conditions of release are determined on a case-by-case basis after a review of the individual facts of the case."