For the last six months, Jose Juan Moreno has been confined to a small room above the University Church on Chicago’s South Side. Safe inside, he cannot venture more than 50 steps from the corner where he sleeps. If he goes beyond that, US authorities have promised to deport him from the country.
Although he has lived 17 years in Chicago — the only home any of his five American-born children have ever known — Moreno originally crossed the border from Mexico without papers. Under US law, that means he is subject to arrest and deportation at any time, a status he shares with 11 million people in the United States considered “undocumented.”
Earlier this year, Moreno received a deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the authority that carries out the raids and arrests that represent the strong arm of national immigration policy. He was told to leave by April 15, otherwise he’d be deported.
In response, Moreno did the only thing he could think of — he sought sanctuary in the church, praying that even if the authorities would not respect his family or his long years of work in the US, at least they might respect the sanctity of a holy place.
So far, they have. But for how much longer is anybody’s guess.
“I came to this country for the same reason everyone does, to work for a better future for my family,” Moreno told Truthout. “We didn’t have opportunities to do so back in Mexico,” he explained, noting that he came in order to support the mother and siblings he left behind in the state of Zacatecas.
Moreno’s case underscores the uncertainty that continues to face undocumented people across the country today, many of whom live in the shadows, despite promises by President Obama that he would work to improve conditions.
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