An undocumented immigrant from Mexico is living in a northeast Philadelphia church to secure sanctuary from federal agents seeking to deport him.
Javier Flores, 40, moved into the Arch Street United Methodist Church on Sunday, according to Juntos, an immigrant support group.
Flores, father of three children born in the U.S., entered the country illegally nearly 20 years ago and had previously been deported. He returned to be reunited with his family.
He was detained for 16 months at the Pike County Detention Center and was released three months ago under the supervision of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He is slated for deportation again.
“During this time his family experienced severe psychological and financial hardship,” Juntos said in a news release.
Flores has applied for a U-visa, which allows immigrants who were victims of a crime to remain in the country under certain conditions. His visa case has been pending since last year, Juntos said.
“We are resilient. We are fighters and we are unafraid,” said Olivia Vazquez of Juntos. “Our people have fought for their rights for years and we have put our bodies on the live for justice and liberty. Today is no exception.”
Flores’ case is particularly important in light of the election of Donald Trump as president, Juntos said.
“We are faced now with a president-elect that based his entire campaign on the demonizing of our immigrant communities and who now stands to take the last administration’s deportation machine to new levels,” the group said.