POPLAR BLUFF, MO - Honduras native Alex Garcia came to the United States illegally nearly 14 years ago. He found work in construction, fell and love and moved to Poplar Bluff, Mo. Friends of Garcia said he left Honduras to escape danger and economic despair.
“It was horrible,” he said.
When Garcia’s illegal status came to light, he was granted stays of removal in 2015 and 2016. The request was denied in 2017. His wife said her husband was told there was a policy change resulting in the denial.
That’s when Garcia left his wife and children in Poplar Bluff and took refuge at Christ Church UCC in Maplewood. He hoped to avoid deportation. He’s been living there for nearly 10 months.
His wife Carly Garcia brings their kids to the Maplewood church just about every weekend to see their father. She said the round trip is more than 300 miles. She and Alex have been married for 8 years and have been together for nearly 12 years.
“Even though he’s so excited to see us, it hurts,” said Garcia. “It hurts to leave.”
The Garcia’s situation grabbed the attention of U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay who met with the family recently. Clay is now asking the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to allow Garcia to stay.
Part of a statement from Clay reads, ““Mr. Garcia has a well-founded fear of persecution in Honduras. A member of his family has already been killed. Deportation would do nothing to protect America. But it would destroy a family and subject this good and decent man to terror and violence. We are standing with Alex because America is better than that.”
Christ Church UCC Pastor Rebecca Turner said Garcia cares about his community and is no threat to the United States. He does repair work for the church.
“Well what I have told the agents at the St. Louis office of I.C.E. on several occasions is that this man deserves a break and that families belong together,” said Turner.
“It’s heartbreaking for my children to whine and cry because they want their father.,” said Carly Garcia.
She said her husband was working, paying taxes and taking care of their children.
“To see such a good man, a kind-hearted man put in this position to where he’s being taken from his family, it’ll rip your heart out,” she said.
President Trump has said the best way to avoid these situations is for illegal immigrants to stop coming to the United States. We asked I.C.E. for a response to Rep. Clay’s letter. A spokesperson said as, with all such communication, the agency would respond directly to the congressman.