EL PASO, Texas - Las Cruces and El Paso communities are rallying together to support a man seeking sanctuary in a Las Cruces church.
Jorge Taborda is a 20-year resident and one of 30 sanctuary cases in the country. NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé or CAFE, say the Taborda family came to the United States in 1998 from Colombia on visas and applied for asylum. In 2002, their application was denied and they were ordered removed. Officials say with no criminal record, all members of the family have remained low priorities for deportation.
On May 9th, officials say Taborda and his wife were targeted by unidentified agents in unmarked vehicles. Taborda's wife was detained by for a month before being deported by ICE to Colombia in June. Taborda is currently under the care of Holy Cross Retreat Center in Las Cruces.
“Jorge Taborda is a faithful man and a great father. He was a red cross volunteer, serving 13 different deployments including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. He belongs home with his children and with his church community where he can continue to serve Las Cruces and our country,” Francisco Zapata, a member of our Lady of Health Catholic Church said.
NM CAFE and Holy Cross Retreat Center held ‘Encounter at the Border’ a three-day retreat on the realities of the border region. A rally was also be held Wednesday in support of Taborda at the El Paso Processing Center.
“Clergy and community from across our country care deeply about what’s happening on our border, they are showing up ready to fight for the humanity of all immigrants. This is about building the power to fight beyond just our border community so we can win in D.C” Sarah Silva, Director of NM CAFE said.
When asked how his father was doing, 15-year-old Steven Taborda says he's unsure about what will happen next.
"My dad's alright, he's still stressed out about our situation, he's doing everything he can to keep my mind off of it."
He says he worries about his mother too.
"I feel bad for my mom because Colombia is a horrible place to stay," Taborda said.
Taborda, says the day his mother was detained, his older brother was too. His brother was ultimately released but his mother was deported to Colombia.
"I was going to therapy and once I got out of therapy, my dad was super nervous and panicking that my mom and my brother got detained, so I was super nervous. We went out to a parking lot and two guys without anything they looked like normal guys, they kept talking to my dad, followed him and followed him, My dad negotiated with them to let me take me to school so he took me to school and I was thinking about it all day," Taborda said.
The teen tells ABC-7 his life has changed since that day.
"I've been a lot busier and I haven't been able to relax as much as I used to be," Taborda said.
Taborda, accompanied by Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantu, walked into the processing center hoping to turn in his father's application for a stay of removal.
"It's going to be very difficult, it's very difficult. What we're asking, is basically that his application for a stay of removal which means that ICE won't actually deport him. We're asking that that application be accepted without the necessity of him having to prevent himself in person. ICE is insisting he needs to present himself, of course that could result in his detention and separation from his 15-year-old son and obviously his removal from the U.S.," Iliana Holguin, Taborda's attorney told ABC-7.
"I'm hoping my dad can stay here so I can have a better future with more guarantee," Taborda said.
The ICE director was not available and Bishop Cantu tells ABC-7 he will schedule an appointment with him for next week.