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Congregation votes to let man live in church to avoid deportation

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Posted at 10:00 AM, Nov 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-03 10:00:01-05

A Denver church has given refuge to a man for nearly two weeks.

Arturo Fernandez could go back to Mexico if he steps outside of the First Unitarian Society church of Denver building because he is not a legal resident of the United States.

He is living inside the church to avoid deportation, because some believe Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not typically seek illegal immigrants in churches and schools. The church unanimously voted to allow him to stay there.

Fernandez says he came here "to work for a better life for my family; we are not criminals,” Fernandez told 7News in Denver.

His family visits every night, and they are the reason he wants to stay.

I.C.E. ordered Fernandez to leave the country two years ago. He was arrested after a fight at his place of employment.

Fernandez is considered a fugitive.

The Rev. Mike Morran if First Unitarian Church said Fernandez is a “fine, upstanding human being. This is a man who has worked hard in this country.

“He has two children who have never known any other life,” Morran said.

The church has committed to allowing Fernandez to stay for three months.

Fernandez said he is holding on to faith because a woman in a church in Chicago had her deportation order withdrawn.

“I have hope for me,” he said.