PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A 40-year old Mexican father is now a free man after spending 11 months holed up in a Center City church. He was the first in the country to go into sanctuary under the Trump administration.
It was just after 10 a.m. when Javier Flores Garcia walked out of the Arch Street Methodist Church breathing his first breaths of city air and hugging his two young sons and daughter as a free man.
Garcia thanked his lawyers. He had been deported three times before and ended up in the Berks Detention Center. When he was released last year for three months, he went into sanctuary.
Garcia was stabbed in 2004 and helped police nab the suspect, qualifying him for a special visa.
“He received something called deferred action,” said attorney Brennan Gian-Grasso.
Gian-Grasso says after multiple appeals, Garcia’s U-visa application was approved.
Garcia could get his visa as early as next year, but first he’ll celebrate. Immigration and Customs Enforcement generally will not enter churches, making them ideal locations for sanctuary.