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Federal immigration bill introduced for woman living in Mancos church

Legislation would grant legal U.S. residency to Rosa Sabido
Longtime Cortez resident Rosa Sabido, who has been in sanctuary in the Mancos United Methodist Church for more than four years, has renewed hope for a legal path for U.S. residency. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

A private immigration bill introduced in the U.S. Congress this month by Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, would provide legal U.S. residency for Rosa Sabido, a Mexican national from Cortez who has been living in sanctuary at the Mancos United Methodist Church for more than four years.

House Resolution 4936, introduced in the House of Representatives on Aug. 3, would allow Sabido to be eligible for an immigration visa and permanent U.S. residency and would rescind an outstanding deportation order.

Sabido has lived in Montezuma County for 32 years and was granted sanctuary by the church in 2017 after a stay of deportation was denied.

The former local church secretary and popular food vendor fought for decades to gain residency, but has not been successful.

She was granted a stay of deportation six times, before being denied and ordered to leave the country by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Church sanctuary protects against deportation.

Sabido has been reaching out to legislators in the hope they will introduce a private immigration bill in Congress that would grant her residency status. From there, she could continue the application process toward citizenship.

Rep. Joe Neguse

The bill, titled “HR 4936 For the Relief of Rosa Aurora Sabido-Valdivia,” was referred to the Immigration and Citizen Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.

It requires a companion bill to be sponsored by a U.S. senator, which has not happened yet.

Sabido’s support network, “Rosa Belongs Here,” said in a Monday news release that the bill on her behalf has the potential to “bring an end to the arduous journey Sabido has been on to live and work in the United States, a country she has called home for more than half her life.”

Mancos United Methodist Pastor Craig Paschal said the church granted Sabido sanctuary “because we believe we are called to love our neighbors and stand in solidarity with the marginalized. Today, we celebrate the introduction of a private bill in Congress for Rosa by Congressman Joe Neguse. We thank him from the bottom of our hearts. We stand in faith as one.”

Sabido said in past interviews that she has worked tirelessly toward residency and citizenship for decades, submitted piles of paperwork and attending required immigration appointments. Her sanctuary status and immigration story has garnered attention of the national and international media, including the BCC, The Washington Post, Reuters, Univision and The Los Angeles Times.

“A true injustice has happened to one of our community members, Rosa Sabido, and I hope that with this private bill, we can right the wrongs of our immigration system and help her safely live in the place she calls home,” said Cortez Mayor Pro-Tem Rachel Medina, in the news release.

The release says while Sabido has “made honest mistakes along the way” toward legal status, without proper legal representation early on “she came away time and time again facing longer delays due to the endless backlog and bureaucracy and inhumane shifts in policy.”

In February 2020, supporters delivered a petition organized by Rosa Belongs Here and signed by 2,750 people to then Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, asking him to introduce a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would support Sabido’s efforts toward citizenship.

Tipton’s office declined the request.

In July 2020, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet met with Sabido to share her story in support of a private immigration bill. Bennet has not publicly committed to sponsoring a bill.

For more information about Sabido’s story, visit rosabelongshere.org

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