Photo by Karen Rodewald
After 11 Months In Sanctuary, Javier Flores Is Free To Be Home With His Family!
On Wednesday, October 11th, Juntos along with members of Philadelphia’s immigrant community and allies, stood with Javier Flores Garcia at Arch St. United Methodist Church as he took his first steps outside of the church he had been living in since November 2016 after having won his deportation case.
Javier, a 40 year old Mexican father living in Philadelphia since 1997 went into Sanctuary shortly after the November elections of last year in an act of resistance and bravery. In 2004 Javier was stabbed multiple times and left for dead and worked through that harrowing experience with local law enforcement to capture his assailants, making him eligible for a U-Visa. Yet he was deemed deportable because of previous deportations which were the result of him trying to always reunite with his family, which has always been Javier’s number one priority. Javier then spent 16 agonizing months in detention at both York and Pike County Detention Center while his children, who witnessed ICE take their father away from them with guns in front of his house, had to go into therapy after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of what they had witnessed. He was released from Pike County only to be given three months to get his papers in order, which was not enough time, and therefore was forced to make the brave decision to enter Sanctuary, once again in an effort to keep his family together. Now, after eleven months in Sanctuary and after 2.5 years of agonizing torture, he and his family are finally free from the confines of the threat of deportation and are going home to Northeast Philadelphia.
Javier was granted a waiver for his re-entries which allow his U-Visa case to move forward and grants him a deferred action while he waits for his case is determined by USCIS, which could take a year or two. In the meantime he will be granted working papers and be free from the fear of deportation. Javier’s wife, Alma, and her children started to fight Javier’s case while he was still detained the weekend that Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in September of 2015. Adamaris, Javier’s daughter, made a sign for the Pope pleading for help with her father’s case and when he passed by her blessed her, since then the family has been fighting for their freedom. The family has led marches including at the Democratic National Convention, spearheaded a Caravan for Freedom collecting thousands of petitions urging for Javier’s release and in their bravest display of resistance, entered Javier into Sanctuary just days after Trump was elected into office.
And now, on the eve of the Trump administration’s one year anniversary and just days after “Operation Safe City” led to the disappearance of 107 people at the hands of ICE in Philadelphia, the victory of Javier and his family serves to remind us that in the face of white supremacy and massive criminalization of people of color in this country, the only way to ensure our freedom and to be with our families is with acts of resistance and bravery.
Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos, had this to say, “This administration works everyday to criminalize our very existence as people of color and wants nothing more than to spark fear in our community. But Javier has shown us how bravery and resistance is crucial to fighting back against the erosion of our rights. His family, like any other, has the right to be together and to live with dignity. We must continue to build the resistance against the Trump administration, which is headed by white supremacists, and build the kind of country and world we can be proud of; one that is guided by Love, not hate.”