Photography by Lucy Nicholson. Reporting by Ben Gruber
For nearly two months since taking sanctuary at the United Methodist Church in Mancos, a small town in the mountains of southwest Colorado, Sabido, 53, has lived in a cramped room with a makeshift shower. She sleeps beneath a mural of Noah’s Ark in what used to be the church nursery.
Sabido leaves her room to use the toilet, or stretch her legs in the garden, or attend worship services, but if she steps off church property she risks arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Rosa Sabido, now receiving sanctuary in a Mancos church since her last application to stay in the country was denied, is not an example of problems caused by uncontrolled immigration. For the past 30 years, she has been gainfully employed, has paid taxes and has been an upstanding member of the community.
She is, though, the face of one large and often-undiscussed group of immigrants: those who have contributed to their community and the economy and who have tried to follow the rules that would allow them to remain in this country legally, but who, for a variety of reasons – some logical and some arcane – have come up short. These are the intended beneficiaries of immigration reform, which has languished on the national agenda for years. Unfortunately, a nuanced view of the complex issue, necessary for true and lasting progress, does not fit well into campaign speeches.
From an interviewed posted July 4, 2017, at ksjd.org.
Few immigration cases in the United States are simple. That includes the case of Mexican immigrant Rosa Sabido, who is taking sanctuary at the Mancos United Methodist Church as she sorts out her immigration status. She can’t become a citizen because a large backlog in citizenship applications has made the wait to receive citizenship longer than the time she can legally remain in the U.S. After a long and complicated process of applying to various visas and work permits that allowed her to live and work in the U.S. legally for over 20 years, until she was arrested after an immigration court denied a request to review her case. She has since been allowed to stay in the U.S. after receiving six Stays of Removal, which have delayed her deportation by one year each. But in April, ICE denied her most recent stay of removal and instead issued an Order of Deportation, which brought her to the church to stay while she and her lawyer consider other options. When KSJD’s Austin Cope went to the church to talk with Sabido and the church’s pastor, Craig Paschal, they didn’t talk about Rosa’s immigration status– at least not at first.
From a July 4, 2017, article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times:
By David Kelly
A small piece of paper hangs above a bed in the pastor’s office at the Mancos United Methodist Church. It’s a sign-up sheet with the names of local residents committed to watching over Rosa Sabido, a Mexican national who has found sanctuary from deportation in the Colorado church. The residents sleep in the church office, while Sabido rests in a separate room normally used as a children’s nursery.
“We are here in case someone should show up at night or just to comfort her,” Joanie Trussel, a local resident whose name was on the list of volunteers, said recently. “We don’t want her to be alone.”
For the last 30 years, Sabido has lived in the U.S. on visitor visas or by receiving stays of deportation, but she was denied a stay in May and became eligible for immediate deportation.