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caption: FILE PHOTO: Jose Robles, right, hugs Pastor Kari Lipke on Sunday, December 16, 2018, after the Las Posadas Pageant at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle.
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FILE PHOTO: Jose Robles, right, hugs Pastor Kari Lipke on Sunday, December 16, 2018, after the Las Posadas Pageant at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Jose Robles released from immigrant detention in NW

President Joe Biden is reversing many of the Trump administration's tough immigration policies. That’s rippled out to the Northwest where one undocumented man — Jose Robles — was recently released after 20 months in immigration detention.

Under the new policy, immigrants who do not pose a threat to public safety are not a priority for deportation. That’s why Jose Robles was most likely released, according to his attorney Sandy Restrepo from Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.

On Wednesday dozens gathered to celebrate him at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.

"Ha sido un camino largo que he tenido que recorrer para estar con mi familia. Pero gracias a ustedes nunca me sentí solo."

In Spanish, Robles shared with the crowd that it’s been a long road to get reunited with his family but thanks to the church community he never felt alone.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement became interested in Robles after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. That charge was later dismissed but it led Robles to take refuge at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in 2018 where he stayed for over a year.

Immigration officials generally avoid "sensitive locations" like hospitals and churches.

Then in 2019, Robles left the church to check in with ICE. That’s when he was detained and transferred to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.

Though Robles is free now, his case is not over. He has a pending visa application.

Currently, one other immigrant Jaime Rubio Sulficio and his family are in sanctuary at St. Marks.

This month marks his two-year journey living at the church while he fights his immigration case.