PHILADELPHIA — May 19, 2017, 3:00 PM ET

Dad fighting deportation has lived in a church for 6 months to keep his family together

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It has been more than six months since Javier Flores García set foot outside the Arch Street United Methodist Church in downtown Philadelphia. Sometimes, as the other parishioners make their way through the big double doors after Sunday Mass, he lets himself walk with them all the way to the threshold.

“It’s very hard to watch people leave with their families when I know I have to go back down below, to the same place,” García told ABC News in Spanish.

Outside, tourists snap photos in front of City Hall, and commuters rush to work. In the six months he has been staying in the church’s basement, fall has turned to winter and winter to spring.

“Sometimes, when there is no one in the church and my wife comes to bring me food or to eat with me, I go up and open the door,” he said. “It gives me such nostalgia to see all the people walking outside when I know I can’t leave. That’s the hardest thing.”

But for García, a 40-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, the risk of walking outside is too great. It would take only a few minutes for agents from the nearby Philadelphia field office of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to arrive and arrest him — and eventually deport him. His ankle bracelet tells them where he is at all times. That’s why, since Nov. 13, he has been living in a makeshift apartment in the church. Places of worship are a category of locations deemed sensitive by ICE, meaning the agency typically avoids conducting enforcement actions in them.

PHOTO: Javier Flores Garcia, and his son, Javier, have been living in Arch Street United Methodist Church since Nov. 13, 2016. Garcia said he entered sanctuary to avoid being detained and deported back to Mexico again. <p itemprop= " />Kaelyn Forde/ABC News
Javier Flores Garcia, and his son, Javier, have been living in Arch Street United Methodist Church since Nov. 13, 2016. Garcia said he entered sanctuary to avoid being detained and deported back to Mexico again.

In García's small world, little has changed in six months. He spends his days doing odd jobs — painting, cleaning bathrooms and setting up tables for the free meals the congregation serves to homeless people and veterans. In his room, a small TV often flickers in the corner, on but muted. He has a desk with Christmas cards, a mini-fridge with food and in one corner, a narrow bed.

It’s in this room that he said he spends his days waiting for the outcome of his petition for legal status in the United States.

“Every day, it’s the same, wondering … when they’re going to decide to approve or deny it,” García said. “That is what I find myself thinking about — when, what day and how they will decide.”

The alternative is to go back to Mexico, a country he hasn’t called home in 20 years, without his three children, all U.S. citizens. García said he crossed the border on foot in 1997. He then met his wife, Alma Lopez, who is also undocumented, and together they have raised three children: Adamaris, 13; Javier, 5; and Yael, 2.

PHOTO: Javier Garcia in the Arch Street United Methodist Church where he and his father took sanctuary. Kaelyn Forde
Javier Garcia in the Arch Street United Methodist Church where he and his father took sanctuary.

“I came here, but they started their lives here in this country. It’s theirs, and they have to continue here,” he said. “It’s hard, but I think it’s worth it to keep fighting. Not for me but for my children. It’s not fair to them to have their well-being taken away.”

But this is his last chance to legally stay with his family, according to his attorney, Brennan Gian-Grasso, 39. Authorities have deported García four times — in 2007, in 2013 and twice in 2014 — Gian-Grasso said. Each time, García has managed to cross back into the U.S. on foot.

Now Garcia is waiting to hear whether he will be granted one of only 10,000 visas that are reserved each year for immigrants who are victims of crimes and agree to help law enforcement solve them. Nearly two years after his U visa petition was filed, he has no choice but to continue to wait.

“This is really his only option right now,” Gian-Grasso told ABC News. “This is his shot.”

Vying for 1 of 10,000 visas

García’s fate hangs entirely on a visa dependent on one of the worst days of his life. On March 18, 2004, he and his brother were attacked and stabbed with box cutters in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, by two other undocumented men.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by the detectives in the case, the brothers were transported to the hospital after “suffering stab wounds and numerous lacerations” from “grayish colored box cutters.” The two men who attacked them were charged with aggravated assault.

“While he was in the hospital, Javier worked with police to let them know all the details he could,” Gian-Grasso said. “He was willing to testify, but because of his cooperation from the very get-go and his ability to identify the people who hurt him, they ended up accepting plea deals to aggravated assault, served jail time and were ultimately deported.”

U nonimmigrant visas, created in 2000, are reserved for victims of crimes who have suffered physical and mental abuse and are willing to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of those responsible, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. U visa holders may eventually petition for permanent residency and help their family members stay in the U.S. as well.

The number of U visas granted hovers around 10,000 each year, according to USCIS. But the number of U visa petitions nearly tripled from 2010 to 2015, from 10,742 to 30,106, according to USCIS.

PHOTO: A box of Skittles and other possessions belonging to Javier Fores Garcia and his son. Kaelyn Forde/ABC News
A box of Skittles and other possessions belonging to Javier Fores Garcia and his son.

Susan Bowyer is the deputy director of the Immigration Center for Women and Children in Oakland, California. She said the center helps file about 1,000 principal U visa petitions each year.

“Law enforcement agencies consistently tell us that the U visa is a great way to build — or repair — bridges to immigrant communities,” she told ABC News in an email.

The increase in petitions can be attributed to increased awareness among immigration attorneys and their clients, she said.

“People learn about it from other people that got U visas. We had a client come in who was robbed on a street corner, and a woman leaned out the window above him and said, ‘Call the police. You can get a U visa,’” Bowyer added.

But that wasn’t the case for García, Gian-Grasso said. No U visa petition was filed on his behalf until more than 10 years after he was attacked, when he was already in the Pike County Detention Center, awaiting deportation.

Now that attack so many years ago is his only chance to stay with his children.

“The only reason Javier has any possibility for immigration relief is because he had the unfortunate experience of being the victim of a pretty heinous assault,” Gian-Grasso said. “Up to that point, there have been a lot of missed opportunities with him being able to apply with previous immigration lawyers.”

PHOTO: Javier Flores Garci­a is an undocumented immigrant fighting to stay in the U.S. with his wife and their three U.S. citizen children. Javier Flores Garci­a/Handout
Javier Flores Garci­a is an undocumented immigrant fighting to stay in the U.S. with his wife and their three U.S. citizen children.

But before USCIS may consider his U visa petition, Gian-Grasso said, García needs to be granted a waiver of inadmissibility because of his previous deportations. And while his attorney doubts his U visa petition will be denied, he has been denied a waiver of inadmissibility twice.

“If the waiver is granted, I don’t see any issue. There has never been any statement that his qualifying crime was insufficient or that he didn’t cooperate,” Gian-Grasso said. “The real crux of the issue right now is whether his waiver will be granted or not.”

Gian-Grasso said he filed a motion to reopen García’s request for a waiver of inadmissibility with USCIS, challenging the grounds for its previous denial. That motion has been pending since August 2016.

‘A downward spiral for the family’

García’s detention started in May 2015, when ICE agents were waiting for him as he left for work. It was about a year since he had entered the U.S. most recently, in 2014. He said his older son and daughter watched as ICE agents handcuffed him at the family’s home. He was sent to a detention center more than 130 miles from his family in Philadelphia.

The family reached out to Juntos, an immigrants’ rights organization, for help. Olivia Vasquez, a community organizer with Juntos, said that at one point, the García children tried to sneak off and hitchhike to the detention center where their father was held.

“His daughter, who was 12 at the time, was desperate to see her father, so she had said, ‘Come on, little brothers, let’s go see Dad,’” Vasquez told ABC News. “Alma came home and called the police, and they found them a few miles away.”

PHOTO: Olivia Vasquez is a community organizer with Juntos, an immigrants rights organization. She has helped Garcia and his family throughout his detention and time in sanctuary.Kaelyn Forde/ABC News
Olivia Vasquez is a community organizer with Juntos, an immigrants rights organization. She has helped Garcia and his family throughout his detention and time in sanctuary.

As the months went by, it became clear that the children were increasingly affected by their father’s detention, Vasquez and Gian-Grasso said.

“There was just a downward spiral for the family. His daughter tried to commit suicide. His son ended up becoming increasingly psychologically affected by his detention. A whole bunch of really bad things happened,” Gian-Grasso said.

Adamaris said her father’s detention was one of the most difficult times in her life.

“It affected me really bad, because I didn’t know if they were going to send him to Mexico or if I was ever going to see him again,” she told ABC News. “I had trouble in school. My mom sometimes didn’t even want to come out of her room.”

García said he was desperate to help his family, so he decided to seek parole, which can be granted at ICE’s discretion. After three denials, his request was approved in August of last year, and he was released with an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements. His parole was set to expire on Nov. 14, but in the 90 days García was out of detention, nothing changed with his U visa petition. Worried about his family’s well-being if he went into detention again, he said, he took matters into his own hands.

‘We felt like we are actually living our faith’

García, a soft-spoken man, was not previously a member of the Arch Street United Methodist congregation. He said he has never really liked public speaking or being the center of attention. But on the Sunday after Election Day, during a regularly scheduled service full of people, he stood up and formally asked for sanctuary. He was going to be detained the next day and deported soon after, his attorney said.

“It wasn’t easy to find a church,” he said. “Many churches closed their doors to us. But thank God, this one opened theirs.”

PHOTO: Arch Street United Methodist Church is part of the “New Sanctuary Movement,” Rev. Robin Hynicka said. Javier Flores Garcia is the first person to physically take sanctuary in the church. Kaelyn Forde/ABC News
Arch Street United Methodist Church is part of the “New Sanctuary Movement,” Rev. Robin Hynicka said. Javier Flores Garcia is the first person to physically take sanctuary in the church.

The logistics of his sanctuary were the product of weeks of planning between the García family, Juntos and the church, the Rev. Robin Hynicka told ABC News. Arch Street United Methodist had been a member of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia for the past six years, Hynicka said, and a longtime Juntos ally. So when García’s case came before him, Hynicka said, he didn’t hesitate.

“When the call came for Arch Street to consider becoming a physical sanctuary for Javier, I simply put out a message to about 40 leaders in our church. I basically said, ‘I don’t think this is a question of will we do this but how we will do this.’ And all of them agreed,” Hynicka said. “Within two weeks, we had a room ready.”

When García stood up during Mass, holding little Javier, the atmosphere in the church was something special, Hynicka said.

“We felt like we are actually living our faith. We aren’t just talking about doing justice and loving our neighbor. We’re actually loving our neighbor and doing justice right now, today,” Hynicka said. “There was a real sense of community, a real sense of a peaceable kingdom that has power.”

Churches have served as sanctuaries for centuries, Hynicka said, and the Sanctuary Movement in the U.S. began in the 1980s, when churches opened their doors to Central American people fleeing civil wars.

ICE said it views places of worship, schools and hospitals as sensitive locations and maintains a policy of avoiding enforcement actions there.

“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to ensuring that people seeking to participate in activities or utilize services provided at any sensitive location are free to do so without fear or hesitation,” ICE officials told ABC News in a statement. They declined to comment on García’s case in particular.

PHOTO: Javier Flores Garcia wears an ankle bracelet that allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to know where he is at all times. Kaelyn Forde
Javier Flores Garcia wears an ankle bracelet that allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to know where he is at all times.

But immigration officials know where he is at all times because of his ankle bracelet, Gian-Grasso said.

“Javier, when he went into sanctuary, said ‘Look, I’m not a fugitive. I’m not hiding anywhere. I’m going to tell you where I’m going to be. But I have to do this for my family.’ And this is fundamentally a nonviolent form of protest,” Gian-Grasso added.

‘Their parents are legal here, but not all of us have that privilege’

The decision to stay in sanctuary hasn’t been easy. García said he used to earn $2,800 a month as an arborist and spent his days working outdoors. Now he does odd jobs in the church, and his family relies on donations to make ends meet.

Lopez has had to care for the children largely on her own, she said.

“It’s affected us very much — economically, physically and morally — especially the children,” she told ABC News in Spanish. “I haven’t been able to look for work because of the children. I have to take them to therapy. I have to take food to Javier.”

While Lopez is also undocumented, she doesn’t have an active deportation order against her.

PHOTO: Rev. Robin Hynicka of Arch Street United Methodist said it wasn’t a question of if the church would help Garcia, but how. He said he reached out to church leaders and within two weeks, they had prepared a room Garcia could live in. <p itemprop= " />Kaelyn Forde/ABC News
Rev. Robin Hynicka of Arch Street United Methodist said it wasn’t a question of if the church would help Garcia, but how. He said he reached out to church leaders and within two weeks, they had prepared a room Garcia could live in.

Adamaris said that while having her father in sanctuary has been much better than having him in a detention center, her life is very different from her classmates’.

“Even though we can visit him sometimes, he is still far away. I have to go to school, and sometimes my mom has to pay more attention to my brothers and my dad than to me. So basically, I don’t get the same attention,” Adamaris said.

And few of her classmates understand what it’s like to live with that stress, she said.

“I don’t think they know how it feels because they have both their parents there. They don’t know to experience that because their parents are legal here, but not all of us have that privilege,” Adamaris said.

García said his children struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, which was diagnosed by therapists, from his time in detention.

“It’s very hard for them psychologically. Even now, when they see police, they assume they are here for me,” García said. “Recently, after I came here, my older son came to visit me, and he saw the police lights pass by the window, and he said, ‘We have to run. We have to go.’ I told him, ‘Don’t worry. We’re safe here.’”

García said that as a parent, it’s hard to see his children live with such fear. Little Javier often stays overnight with his father at the church and cries when he goes back home without him.

“Normally, he lives with me here. He can leave for a day, two days, but normally but it’s just one day he spends at home,” García said. “His fear comes when night comes.”

“He calls me and asks, ‘Are you OK? Are you sad?’ I tell him, ‘No, I’m content because you are at home,’” García said. “It’s very hard. But now is not the time to fall apart. We have to be strong because if I fall, my family falls.”

PHOTO: Javier Flores Garcia used to work outdoors as an arborist. Now he does odd jobs around the church, including painting. The church has been supporting Garcia and his family while he is in sanctuary. Kaelyn Forde
Javier Flores Garcia used to work outdoors as an arborist. Now he does odd jobs around the church, including painting. The church has been supporting Garcia and his family while he is in sanctuary.

The family has been working to gradually get Javier to spend more nights at home with his mother and siblings in preparation for him to start kindergarten. But he is still waiting for his father’s future to be determined.

“He says to me, ‘When you can leave, I will go to school,’” García said. “It’s very hard to see all of this, but I can’t give up now.”

‘Why would I give it all up?’

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, including Philadelphia. García said he knows he is vulnerable.

“The fear is always there. With the new president, anything can happen,” he said. “But I am not going to give up because of the fear.”

ICE said it has stepped up arrests by more than 37 percent under the Trump administration. From Jan. 22 to Apr. 29, deportation officers arrested 41,318 people. The agency said nearly 75 percent of the people it has arrested since Trump took office are convicted criminals, although the majority were not convicted of violent crimes.

García, who was convicted of DUI in 2004 but was given probation rather than jail time, said many people have asked him why he doesn’t go back to Mexico and take his family with him. But because his children are U.S. citizens and they have greater opportunities here, he feels compelled to stay.

“Why would I give it all up? Why would I give it up for me, not thinking about my children and their future here?” he said. “If they deport me, I will return. It doesn’t matter how long it takes me. It could be one or two years. But I am going to return.”

PHOTO: Javier Flores Garcia, and his son, Javier, have been living in Arch Street United Methodist Church since Nov. 13, 2016. Garcia said he entered sanctuary to avoid being detained and deported back to Mexico again. Kaelyn Forde
Javier Flores Garcia, and his son, Javier, have been living in Arch Street United Methodist Church since Nov. 13, 2016. Garcia said he entered sanctuary to avoid being detained and deported back to Mexico again.

And though ICE has policies in place to avoid conducting enforcement actions in churches, agents have leeway in how they interpret those policies, according to David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a think tank focused on free markets and limited government.

“What I see happening is that there is a lot of legal language being used that’s very carefully crafted to say that we’re not going to target people in certain areas, but then they’re targeted just outside of those areas,” he told ABC News. “So the minute they walk out of that church or the minute they walk out of the courthouse, you have agents waiting for them.”

Bier said even when then-President Barack Obama told ICE in 2014 to focus on deporting convicted criminals, ICE’s discretion led to more removals. That could be the case once again under Trump.

“ICE was interpreting that as broadly as possible and using every possible means to effectuate more removals,” Bier said. “That resulted in an unprecedented number of deportations. I think that, really, by giving them the flexibility, by giving them this discretion to decide that in certain cases, you can violate these restrictions, in certain cases you can go after people who haven’t been convicted of a crime, that’s pretty much opening it up to have them do it whenever they want.”

With his history of immigration violation convictions, Hynicka knows that ICE could choose to go for García. But he said he hopes agents continue to respect the centuries-old practice of regarding places of worship as sanctuaries.

“We have an open door every day. ICE knows where Javier is,” Hynicka said. “I would really state clearly that we are a church doing our work, we are church honoring our sacred call to be a loving neighbor and doing justice. It would be a tremendous mistake if ICE would come to the church or any other church or community of faith that’s providing sanctuary.”

“We have procedures in place. We know what the law is. Javier knows what the law is. We know what our rights are,” he added, saying that he would ask agents for a warrant signed by a federal judge.

Gian-Grasso said that he will do everything in his power legally to protect García if ICE chooses to enter the church but that the options are limited.

“I could provide more information for a stay of removal, and there’s a lot of things I would have to do in terms of filing,” Gian-Grasso said. “What my inclination is, though — if he were forcibly removed from the church right now, it would be very difficult to stop his removal.”

For now, García can only wait to see whether his petition is approved. But his wife and children know just what they will do if he is able to walk out those big church doors.

“That day, we will have all of our family members come over, since they have seen how hard we have worked for my dad to have his visa, and also our neighbors, because they are hoping to see him soon too,” Adamaris said. “This time, we would like him to actually experience things like a legal citizen.”

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  • oughttaknow

    Yes, from the beginning this man should have done things the right way, but he did not. Can't live in should've moments. Now there are children to consider and they have mental problems now bc this has been handled wrong all along. Need a fix for this family and families like them.

  • EQOAnostalgia

    Sorry, try again, and do it legally.

  • Vic Flores

    The time & resources that have been used to catch & send him back shows he cares nothing about our laws, so I say drag him out & send him back !!

  • Amanda

    Living here illegally for 20 years, hasn't bothered to learn English & has been deported 4 times..... gotcha

  • neptune

    Señor García, you broke the law, be a man an turn yourself in and pay for your crimes. If you are deported keep your family united and take them with you and next time try to enter legally.

  • dkajut

    Immigration ought to pick up the mother too. He needs to go, entered several times illegally. He ought to be in prison. Then deport him.

  • Scott Molnar

    They should arrest and deport his wife since she is not in the church and supporting him. Also, seize and storm the church to throw his ass out of the country. I hope at the very least, they do not process any paperwork he has filed while he is deemed a fugitive for not showing up when his parole expired.

  • Tom Smith

    It's wrong to kidnap this man from Mexico.
    His country wants him back!!!

  • Tom Smith

    I've never seen ABC print the headline:
    American Dad fighting the IRS seeks refuge in a Church.
    Why don't Americans get sympathy?

  • Sjohnson

    Nobody comments much on the bigger criminal of the story ...... the clown who hired these illegals, some of whom turned out to be violent felons. I think that's a far bigger crime than some poor guy just trying to make a better life for himself, and pursuing what seems to be a viable, yet illegitimate, means to do so. The larger part of the problem is the explicit greed of some Americans.

    That being said, no matter what sympathy can be generated for this family, this man should return to Mexico and wait for his visa. Let something be said for a willingness to do the right thing or wrong thing. My wife is a naturalized citizen, and each and every immigration law and policy was followed to the letter. My stepson has had his life on hold for 10 years now, waiting for his legitimate chance to immigrate, sometimes starving and abused in Ukraine. We don't grouse about it endlessly despite the rather extreme hardship. Rather, we've spent the time making sure he has the ability to become a contributing and upstanding member of American society, if his chance becomes reality. I feel sorry for otherwise well-intentioned people who find their family in a predicament because they elected not to follow the rules, but that doesn't mean they should be given preference over those who respect our laws and policies. When we accept immigrants, it should be those who want to honor our system, become just citizens, and have taken appropriate steps to acquire necessary skills to contribute to our growing economy. Somehow, those sneaking in under a fence don't seem to represent those necessary elements.

  • Stephanie Gittinger

    "We will see be able to enjoy being a legal citizen" (paraphrased)? You could have enjoyed that 20 years ago if he'd followed that little thing we call the law...

  • Walking Fool

    He and his family can stay together. In Mexico.

    America is sick and tired of these illegal aliens who sneaks into the US, and feel they are entitled and have a right to be here. They don't. What they should get is a free ride from ICE back to Mexico.

    btw, they are no "undocumented immigrants" as this propaganda piece says, they are "Illegal Aliens."

  • FairToSay

    A repeat offender with 3 felonious re-entries, with his kids mooching off the taxpayer, there is no reason in the world this guy should be allowed to stay. None. If he wants to stay with his family they can go with him.

  • PER

    4,000-word sob story to justify the presence of an illegal criminal trespasser. And the media wonders why most people think the media is slanted.

  • Donald Bradbury

    If we were to gain control of our borders, I would have no problem with letting this man stay. There has to be some humanity and common sense. I am glad that ICE is now allowed to do their job. I still feel that we need to control our borders, though, before we have any talk of amnesty of visas. If we do the 2nd without the 1st, we just invite more.

  • Support The Second

    All very touching and so on and on and I am sure there are untold others with same heart wrenching tale, but the bottom line is ILLEGAL is not LEGAL. No different then deciding it's ok to break other laws. When will you and others get that into your head?

  • Coolone

    I'm going to use an example that provides some real sandpaper for people's skin... See, in this country, in almost every single municipality, if you want to enjoy a silly little Right, guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to own a firearm, you cannot if you have broken the law. This is because the demonstration of your disregard for being lawful will provide justification to deny you a Right. This is acceptable to almost everyone but the hard core Constitutionalist. Point is, so we have an illegal migrant, who questionably, as a non-citizen, has no Right to protections under our Constitution as he has entered illegally and compounded the crime by remaining for decades, knowingly and willfully compounding his criminal act by working illegally, by not paying taxes on his earnings, by being arrested multiple times. Yet, in spite of this, the media, the lost cause liberal progressives, somehow want to justify this guy should be given a break, be afforded Constitutional protections when our own citizens are not once they break laws. Unacceptable by any measure! When you add to it less is provided for our Veterans, our Homeless and also our own malnourished families here that are struggling, it's offensive! These politicians, the media included need to get their priorities straight! Leaves little wonder to understand how Trump won! And more like him are to follow... Those who promise to hold the United States of America, and American Citizens "First!"

  • overboard

    Boo hoo. Only two more of millions of law breakers. Go back to Mexico and wait until the oldest is 21 and can file a visa petition for you.

  • Colonel West

    And here I am without my box of tissues. Darn it!

  • BaldEagle1971

    Pull the church's tax exempt status now. Also arrest anyone in the church, including the pastor, for harboring a known fugitive. When I worked along the border anytime I caught a vehicle load of ILLEGALS I arrested the driver, even if he was a US citizen & turned them over to CBP agents. They would then be charged with aiding & transporting the ILLEGALS. What does it matter if he's hiding in a church. Go in & arrest him. Anybody messes w/ you they go to. It's not a hard concept. Give me the deportation order I'll carry it out. This guy & his wife are thumbing their noses at our laws. Deport them to the Middle East. See how long it takes to make it back then.
    USMC VET/ former Deputy Sheriff along the TX/Mexico border

  • BlueColts Hoosier

    Media make me sick.. why the media pay attention to breakers and murders more than not pay attention to americans? Should americans pay illegal immigrants and murders ? What are about americans and homelessness? Who is the media. What the media wants ?

  • Holly

    Boohoo.

  • Phadras Johns

    Go home and your problems are solved. I have no sympathy for those who willingly knowingly break our laws. Deport the family. GO HOME!!!!

  • Evan

    This is wonderful!! 2 illegals come here and have 3 children for us to pay to educate!! Lets see .. 10,000 per kid per year...120,000 x 3 = 360,000! What a country!!!

  • Filo Beddo

    Get that pieceofsh|t out of my country. He and all like him are [email protected] and must be removed. even if it kills him. We the People don't care.
    Build the wall.
    TRUMP 2020!!!

  • Chris Jones

    He has been deported and came back multiple times illegally. While I don't blame him for wanting to leave here, I don't support him or those decisions.

    I would be deporting his wife as well. She is here illegally and from the way they talk, they speak Spanish over English despite being here for over 20 years!

  • Helen Smith

    It's such a silly game we play. As long as he's legally working and co tributing, whatever. It's more than I can say about some of my dead beat relatives.

  • Justin

    Apparently we shouldn't send citizens, with families, that have committed crimes to prison. Wouldn't want to break up actual US citizens families either..

  • disqus_vedYJCV2Gf

    this is why the "anchor" baby stipulation needs to change, at least one parent must be a citizen in order for the children born here to be considered citizens!

  • kawika

    Another illegal immigrant not undocumented. please get your facts straight. How much government assistance was this guy will three kids getting while living in the U.S.. Since both him and his wife are illegal immigrants and uneducated their prospects for jobs are slim therefore we must have been supplementing their incomes. It also seems like for all the time they lived here they never took the time to learn our language. Typical of the burden they place on our working class citizens whose taxes have to supplement their care.

  • Ward Damon Hubbard

    Funny ABC News fluff piece on illegal's but fail to report on the hardships of our veterans. Who we should care for before those breaking our laws. Deported four times durning Obama? Gee, doesn't that seem strange? Deported for what? This puff piece fails to mention the 'why' he was deported. It certainly couldn't of been 'just' because he was here illegally, especially under Obama. Why is that ABC News? Maybe because that reason is counter to your bias puff piece? Sorry, this Native American isn't buying your narrative.

  • linmarco

    The odds are against him. I'll wager it won't be long before ICE goes into places of worship and nab people. One of the pillars of action demanded by those who voted Trump into office was to get rid of the illegals. That's what he's doing and like he said he won't be kind like Obama. All this guy is doing is delaying the inevitable. Too many illegals had become comfortable in this country. They now see it was the wrong move. Trump doesn't play.

  • Lauralie Eightynine

    I feel sorry for the children that have no choice but deal with this because of the father's poor choices. He had all this time to try to come here the right way and now ABC wants us to feel sorry for him? Sorry, but by the looks of it he has better housing and care than thousands of American homeless citizens and that alarms me more than this guy being here illegally and our system trying to uphold the law.

  • Garmain

    I was wondering how far I would have to read till I found out what the felony was he committed. His wife is also an illegal but no one is interested in deporting her. I'm 66 and have never committed or been convicted of a felony. This guy comes here illegally four times commits a felony and weeps about how unfair we are to want his butt out of here.

  • Cameron Cummings

    I'm sure he's a fine human being. But we are a nation of LAWS that's why he wants to be here. Our LAWS are what provide the foundation for our economy that creates all those jobs Mexico doesn't have. Go back to Mexico and go through proper channels. Obey the LAWS of the nation you want to be a part of.

  • Blaize Rage

    So in 20 years he has not bothered to learn english nor become a citizen.
    Why should be feel sorry for him?

  • 2late2care?

    my question....why isn't the Mrs. speaking English after 13 + years? I would never dream of going to another country and expecting others to conform for me.

  • Coolone

    I stopped reading after "20 years"... He's been here 20 years and he never tried to do it legit, until the threat of being thrown out became real. 8 of those 20 were with the dreamers!

  • colloguy

    Sounds like he was deported more than once and kept coming back (breaking the law).
    After the 2nd time you would think he would try to come back and stay legally.

  • Curious Commenter

    He was deported 4 times and he kept coming back? Someone with such a blatant disregard for U.S. law doesn't sound like the type of person that we want to bring in from other countries.

    His family is free to leave with him. Of course, if they love the U.S. more than they love him, then he only has himself to blame.

  • Devils Child

    I feel bad for the kids but don't put the blame on us. I wonder if he was a member of this church before his current situation...

  • charlie jones

    At 40, he spent as many years in Mexico as he has in the U.S. There he was legal, here he is not. By remaining, he puts the future of his family at risk and that includes his illegal alien wife. If he really wanted to keep the family together, he would take them all back to Mexico, report his actions to ICE and file for immigration. It is highly unlikely that he has no family in Mexico unless, of course, they are also here. So many words on a story that could have been written in one sentence: "...refuses to give up his illegal status, return to Mexico and instead puts his family at risk with the help of a Methodist church while he continues to violate American immigration laws."

  • Quantez Williams

    And why are churches immune from law enforcement??

  • Quantez Williams

    If he wants to keep his family together, what's to stop them from going back to Mexico with him??

  • Hogdude

    Tomorrow's headline: Father takes family with him to new home. Problem solved.

  • JustTheOracle

    He has vowed to continue to disregard our country's laws no matter how many times he is deported and sneak back in again. This is like a murderer asking for clemency while admitting he's planning his next kill. It tells you everything you need to know about this man. The cute kids, the pathetic little cot in his basement room, and the rest of his hard luck story is all just violin music for the liberals to weep by. Ship him back and slam the wall on him. Oh....and because I wouldn't think of splitting up a family, take your illegal wife and citizen children with you. The kids can return when they are of age to avail themselves of our country's opportunities. But you keep out until you choose to immigrate the correct way.

  • yesitsme

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out take your family with you there fixed ,your all together .

  • Jabberwock

    Meanwhile a few years back I couldn't even get a visa for my wife's mother to visit us of a few weeks, and my wife was legally in the US with a green card. No wonder why people cross the border illegally. There is little risk really. Even if they catch you and send you back, you just cross over again.