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Church Seeks to Stop Covenanter’s Immediate Deportation

From l to r: Emily, America, Ivan, and Emilio
From l to r: Emily, America, Ivan, and Emilio

By Stan Friedman

LAS CRUCES, NM (September 1, 2016) – Members of Sonoma Springs Covenant Church are working to stop the imminent deportation of a Covenanter who was arrested as she crossed the border to see her 11-year-old daughter, an American citizen being treated for a serious illness in Chicago.

The woman, Rosa Mani Arias, has been held on federal charges at the El Paso County Detention Center since she was arrested in June. Her daughter, Emily, is being treated at a Chicago hospital for Systemic-Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA).

The mother and daughter have not seen each other for two years.


Rosa, her husband, Emilio, and their older daughter, America, lived illegally in the United States from 2002 to 2008. Emily and her brother, Ivan, were born during that time.

When the factory where Emilio was working closed in 2008, the family sold their home and returned to Mexico, where they started a successful business.The couple made a commitment to Christ while living in the United States and became active members of Puebla Covenant Church in Mexico on their return.

In 2012, Emily was diagnosed with SIJA, a crippling disease. Her body rejected the medication that was available in Mexico. One medicine from the United States was helpful, but it cost $4,000 a month.

That was financially unsustainable so the family made plans in 2014 to return to the United States, so Emily could receive affordable care. However, the U.S. Consulate denied their visa.

Desperate for medical care, Emilio was able to get his children across the border, but Rosa was detained and deported. When Emily was hospitalized in critical care this past June, Rosa attempted to cross the border again after being turned down for a humanitarian visa.

Emily has been hospitalized four times this year. On Wednesday, a social worker from the hospital, wrote a report stating, “Emily continues to have emotional difficulties with regards to the adjustment to her chronic medical conditions and being separated from her mother while attempting to improve her health. One of the main focuses of treatment has been working on her increasing her acceptance of the fact that she cannot be with her mother during this difficult time.”

She added that Emily’s “mental health would improve tremendously” if she could be reunited with her mother. That also would help her physical healing.

While being detained at the El Paso County Detention Center, Rosa has led nightly times of prayer, worship, and biblical teaching, said Sonoma Springs pastor Robert Reed Wednesday night. Participants include women in situations that are similar to Rosa’s, as well as others who have been arrested on drug and human trafficking charges. Several women have given their lives to Christ. Others have made re-commitments.

“Every time I visit, it is like hearing New Testament stories from Paul in prison,” Reed said.

This morning a judge dismissed the federal charges against Rosa, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement will move quickly to have her deported, possibly by Friday, Reed said. An attorney was expected to file motions this afternoon to stop the deportation.

The church is working with several organizations to advocate for Rosa, including PICO, one of the largest faith-based community organizing networks in the U.S., Hope Border Institute; the Mexican Consulate in El Paso; and Marisol Martinez, the president of the Covenant Church of Mexico.

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