Immigrant who sought sanctuary released from detention

Jose Robles spent a year in sanctuary and another two years in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention, but now he’s out from behind bars.

Just a week ago, Robles walked through the gates of the NW Detention Center in Tacoma.

“Thank you to all my supporters because they made all this happen for me and my family,” said Robles today.

We first met him in July 2019 as he was about to leave Gethsemane Lutheran Church in downtown Seattle after a year in sanctuary as an undocumented immigrant facing deportation.

And we were there a few days later when he turned himself in at the ICE headquarters in Tukwila.

Authorities held him but agreed not to deport him to Mexico until a decision was made on whether he should be granted a special visa granted to those who help law enforcement solve crimes.

At St. Mark’s Cathedral today, Robles remembered the brother killed in Mexico while Robles was in detention here.

“I cry because I just think what happened with my brother, you know. Somebody killed him over there in Mexico. That’s why I think I go to Mexico; it’s going to be hard for me. I’m going to get killed too, and I don’t want to go there,” Robles said.

Here, Robles has three children and a painting business.

“I have my own business for 15 years already. I pay taxes. I have license. I have everything for my company,” he said.

Supporters petitioned for his release from the Northwest Detention Center after President Joe Biden took office and changed former President Donald Trump administration’s sweeping deportation policy. Biden told ICE to instead focus on dangerous criminals.

St. Marks is the home of Jaime Rubio who took sanctuary there two years ago to avoid deportation.

Supporters say more needs to be done.

“To be able to find a permanent solution that allows people to join with family and to live in peace, which any one of us would make the same choice,” said Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.

Robles remains under electronic monitoring until an immigration judge can hear his case.