Adventist Family Claims Deportation Violates Their Religious Beliefs

Juan Rodriguez’ wife and daughters filed a lawsuit in federal court in Houston urging that he cannot be deported because doing so would violate the family’s religious rights.  The Rodriguez family are Seventh-Day Adventists and claim their religion requires the family to stay together.

Immigration officials informed Rodriguez that he is scheduled to be deported on June 29.  On Monday, the El Salvadoran’s wife and three daughters filed a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency.

The plaintiffs are asking for a declaratory judgment and for injunctive relief to stop Rodriguez’ deportation.  They urge that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should apply to the Rodriquez family who are United States citizens.  One of their lawyers told Breitbart Texas that this legal argument has never been made in an immigration case.

Rodriguez has lived in Houston with his family for over 10 years, and he has been working as an auto mechanic.  He has a temporary work visa and has been reporting to ICE, according to the lawsuit.  His visa has now run out.  His oldest daughter is a naturalized citizen, and the other two girls are citizens by birth. His wife became a citizen in 2010.

Rodriguez’ wife and children say the family will move back to El Salvador if their father is removed.  They urge that if he gets deported it would amount to “a de facto religious deportation” of them.

Lawyers for Rodriguez’ wife and daughters filed a 38-page memorandum of law in support of their application for a preliminary injunction.

Lawyer David Medina told Breitbart Texas, “Deporting the spiritual leader and sole financial provider, and a loving father who pays taxes and has committed no crimes in the U.S., tears at the fabric of our country.”  He added, “It also tears at the fabric of our great land and at the loving and religious culture of immigrant families throughout the history of the United States. Such a potential is a travesty and inconsistent with the Judeo-Christian values upon which this great nation was founded.”  

Rodriguez’s lawsuit has only a slim chance of winning, according to Gerald Treece, a legal analyst.  Treece also said that if Rodriguez wins this case, it will “knock the door down” for others to use RFRA to annul deportations in the name of religious liberty.  

We will be watching this case.  Pray that God's will is accomplished, whatever the outcome.