Raleigh church providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrant

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Raleigh church is opening its doors to an undocumented immigrant and his family.

Eliseo Jimenez wants to stay in the United States with his wife and two young children, but he faces deportation back to Mexico. If authorities stop the undocumented immigrant out in public, he could be arrested.

“You become a fugitive for immigration purposes and so, right now, that is what has happened to Eliseo,” said Viridiana Martinez with Alerta Migratoria, a Durham-based group that helps undocumented immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.

As others have done, Jimenez is seeking refuge in a church and the Umstead Park United Church of Christ in Raleigh opened its doors to him.

“If we depend on them and we employ them and they benefit us, to turn around and separate those families is clearly a system that needs to be addressed and changed,” said Rev. Doug Long of Umstead Park United Church of Christ.

Bryan Cox, a spokesman for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said Jimenez was deported in 2007 and illegally re-entered the county.

Cox said Jimenez pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Greensboro in 2014, something Jimenez denied, saying any charges were dismissed.

Jimenez said he did re-enter the United State a month after being deported and that was so he could get back together with his family.

“I believe that any responsible father would be doing what I’m doing, would be to fight to remain with their family,” he said, through an interpreter.

Jimenez said his children are American citizens.

He has lawyers who are fighting to keep him in the country.

Cox said ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, including people who violate the country’s immigration laws.

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