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More Waiting: CO Family Joins Others in Fight against Deportation

PHOTO: Arturo Hernandez Garcia's daughters recently visited Washington to fight against their father's deportation. Photo courtesy of Rev. Anne Dunlap
PHOTO: Arturo Hernandez Garcia's daughters recently visited Washington to fight against their father's deportation. Photo courtesy of Rev. Anne Dunlap
December 15, 2014

DENVER - Millions of immigrants nationwide are waiting to see if they qualify for President Obama's Deferred Action for Parents program, which was announced last month.

Arturo Hernandez Garcia is among them. He has been in "sanctuary" at the First Unitarian Society of Denver for almost two months.

"We need time, and the more time I need to stay here and wait in here in the sanctuary," he said. "The holiday is coming, and it's a long time in the sanctuary. I'm here 52 days."

Garcia and his family also are taking action to help ensure that he is not sent back to his native Mexico, after living in the United States for more than 15 years. Last week, his wife and two daughters traveled to Washington to try to halt his deportation order. They were accompanied by members of the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, which is coordinated by the American Friends Service Committee.

Chris Wheeler, who is part of the New Sanctuary Committee for the First Unitarian Society of Denver, said he's witnessed how difficult it has been for Hernandez and his family.

"This is a very hard experience to be separated from your wife and children," Wheeler said, no longer able to earn income and constantly concerned about the future, as to whether you will be granted a stay of deportation or whether you will be deported."

Wheeler said his faith is what prompted him to get involved.

"Human suffering involved with separating families under our broken immigration system is something that people of faith cannot ignore," he said.

Sanctuary isn't a legal immigration claim or status, but organizers say church involvement has met with success in other cities where sanctuary programs exist. Hernandez said he hopes a decision will be made in his case as early as this week.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - CO