AMHERST, Mass. — A Massachusetts man facing deportation to his native Guatemala has sought sanctuary in an Amherst church.

The First Congregational Church in a statement said 35-year-old Lucio Perez came to the house of worship Wednesday after Immigration and Customs Enforcement denied his stay of removal.

Perez came to the U.S. without proper documentation 20 years ago and has three U.S. born children.

The church said Perez is waiting for his case to be adjudicated by the Board of Immigration Appeals, and sought sanctuary in an effort to keep his family together as he awaits a decision.

Church members have converted a meeting room into a bedroom for Perez, with a sitting area, microwave and small refrigerator.

The church says Perez is a landscaper with no criminal record.

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