An illegal alien is taking sanctuary in a Colorado Springs church after he says his case has been delayed due to the partial government shutdown, now in its third week.
Miguel Ramirez Valiente has been issued a deportation order, but his lawyer says he has no way to defend himself because of the government shutdown, according to a CNN report.
He has taken sanctuary at the All Soul's Universalist Church, which is sympathetic to his cause. The church is a part of a national effort to resist stricter immigration enforcement policies from the Trump administration.
Valiente says he fled El Salvador about 14 years ago to escape gang violence.
"That's why everyone is leaving countries like mine, to flee from the violence," he told reporters.
His wife, Alisha Ramirez Valiente, told reporters Wednesday that her family is terrified he will be deported.
"The government shutdown is tearing our family apart," she said. "My three children and I are terrified that he will be deported. His children need him. So do I."
"I hope that him being in sanctuary will give him enough time for the government to reopen and his motion to be reviewed," she explained.
Valiente was arrested in 2011 for driving without a license, and he has been fighting his immigration case since then. Although the case had been closed, it was reopened recently, after which he failed to appear in court. He says he missed the court date in October because he didn't get the notice in the mail.
According to World Church Service, he's not the only illegal alien who has sought sanctuary at a church — they say they know of at least 50 others.
"You have to push forward and have hope that everything will work out," Valiente concluded.