A United Methodist Church in Philadelphia is harboring an illegal alien who is scheduled to be deported, in accordance with a “safe zone” exception allowed by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement that says they will not apprehend individuals for deportation who are in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals, and churches.
Javier Flores, 40, born in Mexico, first came to the United States illegally in 1997, according to The Inquirer Daily News, and has been deported multiple times, but he keeps coming back. He reportedly still does not speak English.
Now, Flores and his wife, Alma Sanchez, have three children all born in the United States, a 13-year-old daughter, Adamaris, and two sons, Javier Junior (5) and Jael (3).
Flores just spent 16 months in detention, then was given a 90 day probation term to get his affairs in order for his family before his deportation. He was scheduled to be deported Monday, November 14, but Sunday morning he walked into the Arch Street United Methodist Church where he now plans to stay until his pending U-visa application is granted, which he applied for in 2015.
The U-visa is another loop-hole that allows illegal aliens to stay in the country if they have been a victim of a crime, have suffered “substantial mental or physical abuse” and agreed to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of the crime.
The Inquirer Daily News reports that Flores is allegedly the victim of an assault on March 18, 2004, where two other illegal aliens from Mexico stabbed him with box cutters. He testified against his assailants, who were deported, and for that, believes he should be able to stay in the U.S.
Because he’s been deported and reentered the country so many times himself, however, that has made him “inadmissible”, and he needs a waiver in order for his U-visa to be approved. It has been denied twice already, but his lawyer has filed for it again.
Flores’ children are reportedly traumatized that their father may be deported, and his lawyer said his client kept returning to the country because he has U.S. citizen children “who are vulnerable and need him.”
“I want people to understand I don’t have a criminal record. I’m not a criminal,” Flores said. “I’ve returned to this country for my children. If they deport me again — I’ve told them — I’ll return again because of my children.”
Philadelphia is a sanctuary city, which bars local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
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