By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The family of an undocumented immigrant who went into sanctuary in Center City is hoping to persuade U.S. Immigration to approve his visa.

Javier Flores Garcia has lived inside the basement of the Arch Street United Methodist Church since November.

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Garcia left his family and went into sanctuary to avoid deportation. He has survived on donations.

“I’m going to keep fighting for my kids,” Garcia said.

Javier Flores Garcia (credit: Cherri Gregg)

His supporters say he qualifies for a U-visa for victims of crime. Garcia was stabbed in 2012 and helped police nab the attacker; his visa case has been in limbo for two years.

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Reverend Robin Hynicka is pastor of the church. He’s part of a “caravan for freedom” taking letters of support for Garcia to the U.S. visa processing center in Vermont.

“There are over 600 signatures on an online petition and growing each and every hour,” Hynicka said. “We will do our part and call on the rest of the world to do theirs.”

Garcia’s wife and children will make his case along the way.

“Hopefully everything turns out great and my family will be normal,” said Garcia’s daughter, Adamaris.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement generally will not enter churches, making them ideal locations for sanctuary.


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