ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- For the last two years, a Maplewood church has been what Alex Garcia calls home.
“It’s come to other families having to make that decision to move into a church to be able to stay with their loved one,” said Garcia's wife Carly.
Carly says the Honduran refugee has been living in a sanctuary since 2017.
“If you leave then you’re running into the chance of never seeing your family again,” she says.
They say he’s being shielded from Immigration Custom Enforcement officials, who are trying to deport Garcia.
I.C.E. says he’s been living in the U.S. illegally since 2004, when he entered the U.S. escaping crime and poverty in his home country.
“It's really hard, especially when I see my kids crying for me when they go to the store and they want me to go with them, and I cannot do that,” he said.
The couple, who married in 2010, said before the threat of deportation Garcia was a construction worker in Popular Bluff and an active father to five American-born children.
But Friday their prayers for his freedom could come by way of new legislation filed by Congressman Lacy Clay.
“I’m very grateful that he’s taken that next step for our family,” said Carla.
Clay says his bill would adjust Garcia’s immigration status to permanent legal resident of the U.S., rescinding all orders that would threaten deportation.
“He’s the love of my life, but watching my children go through this is the hardest,” Carla said.
Addressing the legislation, Congressman Clay's office said:
Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri has introduced legislation to free Alex Garcia, a Honduran refugee currently residing in sanctuary at a church in St. Louis County. Garcia, who is married to an American citizen and has five American-born children, has been the subject of a protracted legal battle with the Department of Homeland Security who are attempting to deport him.
“Alex Garcia and his brave family have suffered enough,” said the Congressman. “My bill would adjust his immigration status to permanent legal resident of the United States and it would also rescind all orders of removal; reuniting this family, ending the threat of deportation, and allowing them to return to a stable, productive life.
ICE raids against innocent immigrants and refugees do nothing to enhance our national security, but they do great damage to children by traumatizing them for no good reason. As history has demonstrated, refugees and immigrants make our country stronger, culturally richer, and add to the diverse fabric of America.”