PHILADELPHIA — A man who’d been living in a Philadelphia church for nearly a year to avoid deportation to Mexico has walked free.

Javier Flores Garcia left the Arch Street Methodist Church on Wednesday, surrounded by his family.

Garcia crossed into the U.S. without proper paperwork in 1997 and had been caught and returned to Mexico multiple times.

In 2004, Garcia was stabbed and worked with the government to capture the men responsible. His actions made him eligible for a special type of visa for people who help police.

Garcia’s attorney says his client has been granted deferred action, which allows him to live and work in the country.

Garcia took sanctuary in the church last November, when he was to report for deportation. He says he plans to stay in Philadelphia.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.