HOUSTON - An undocumented man at the center of a high-profile immigration case has been allowed to stay in Houston for a while longer while he tries to obtain permission to stay as a legal permanent resident.
Juan Rodriguez, a Salvadorian immigrant, checked in at the ICE Northpoint office Monday morning. He was told that the government will hold off on deportation for at least 60 days.
Rodriguez has been arguing for asylum, saying deportation to El Salvador would put his wife and three daughters' safety at risk.
His lawyers filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month arguing that deporting Juan Rodriguez would violate the religious beliefs of Rodriguez and his family; an approach they say has never been tried on an immigration case.
Family attorneys claim a deportation would violate the family’s Seventh-Day Adventist Christian beliefs, specifically a principle requiring families to stay together.
The legal team is banking on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that "ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected” and in 2014 was used to protect Hobby Lobby against some requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Rodriguez has been in the United States illegally for more than a decade after fleeing violence in El Salvador. He had been allowed to stay and work legally in the U.S., if he checked in regularly with immigration officials.
Family members say Rodriguez did so 25 times without any issue, but at his last check-in in February, immigration officials told him he would be deported on June 29.
Rodriguez will be forced to wear an ankle monitor.