Immigrant's 'Unusual' Reprieve After 11 Months in Hiding

Javier Flores Garcia is going home to be with his family thanks to special deferred status and visa
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2017 7:37 AM CDT
11 Months After Hiding in Philly Church, an Immigrant's Reprieve
Javier Flores Garcia embraces his son Javier during a news conference outside of the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Since November, Javier Flores Garcia has been separated from his family and hunkered down in a Philly church to avoid deportation, serving as a handyman and praying. On Wednesday, per NBC Philadelphia, the undocumented immigrant finally left the Arch Street United Methodist Church where he'd found sanctuary not long after Donald Trump was elected president, and the New York Times notes Flores was given a reprieve in "an unusual way": Because he'd helped cops ID suspects who'd attacked him in 2004, leading to their deportation, Flores was granted deferred status, which means he can now live and work in the US under a U visa without fearing ICE will come for him. CBS News notes that Flores had previously been deported three times to his native Mexico, and he'd been just one day away from another deportation when he took refuge in the Philly church.

Places like churches, hospitals, and schools are deemed "sensitive locations" by ICE, which means those who seek sanctuary won't be removed except under "exigent circumstances." The reason Flores had kept returning to the US, despite a DUI conviction: his longtime partner and their three children, who all live here. "I came here for the love of my children," he's previously said, per the Times. A rep for Philly Mayor Jim Kenney, who has deemed Philly a sanctuary city and pushed back on Trump's immigration policies, says the mayor is "happy" for Flores and that "it doesn't make any sense we have an immigration policy that would tear families apart and force hard-working people out." The Times reports that Flores, who says the worst part was his kids' "suffering," now offers advice to others in similar circumstances, per NBC: "Keep fighting, because after the torment comes peace." (More undocumented immigrant stories.)

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