A father of three who's spent a decade living as a tax-paying Connecticut construction worker has sought sanctuary in a church after being told he must leave the United States this week.
Citing his fear of losing his freedom and the danger to his life he'd face in his native Ecuador, Marco Reyes plans to ask federal authorities to re-open his deportation order from 2009 in a bid to overturn it, his attorney, Erin O’Neil-Baker, told InsideEdition.com Tuesday.
Reyes, who came to the country with his wife and their two children from Ecuador in 1997, has never committed a crime in America. Instead, his attorney says he accidentally crossed into Canada during a vacation in 2007 and was subsequently detained and ordered out.
He initially petitioned to stay in the U.S. based on the hardship his American-born youngest daughter would face should he no longer be in the country.
A judge at the time ruled that Reyes had not met the high standard that must be met to gain permanent residency based on such factors. However, he'd been allowed to remain in the U.S. at every annual refiling of his stay of deportation since.
That was until his most recent meeting with ICE officials, when Reyes was ordered out of the country —and away from his wife and 12-year-old — by Tuesday.
But instead of boarding a plane back to Ecuador, Reyes went to a New Haven church Tuesday morning in an attempt to seek sanctuary there.
In a bid to keep Reyes in the country, his attorney has filed a motion to re-open his old deportation order to have it thrown out. Reyes is also asking for what's called a credible fear interview to address threats to his life and freedom he claims he would face in Ecuador.
Such interviews can take anywhere from a week to years to be granted. And O'Neil-Baker said the government is currently only now re-opening deportation orders that date back to 2014.
Now, the family must anxiously await news on those fronts as the harsh reality of the situation takes hold and it remains unclear how long Reyes will need to stay within the confines of First and Summerfield United Methodist Church.
"They are not well at all," O'Neil-Baker said of the family. "They are devastated."
The family, though, may have some help in high places.
In the wake of the Trump Administration's hardened stance on immigration, another undocumented resident of Connecticut, Nury Chavarria, also sought sanctuary from deportation in a New Haven church.
And like he successfully helped do for Chavarria, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said this week he plans to advocate on behalf of Reyes to keep him in the U.S.
"His plight today is a symptom of Trump's cruel and inhumane immigration policies that lack all sense of reason and rationality," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Marco is a hardworking father and husband who has called Connecticut home for two decades without any criminal wrongdoing."
Activists have also mobilized statewide to advocate on Reyes' behalf, along with his young daughter.
Adriana Reyes fought back tears Thursday as she addressed a crowd of her father's supporters while wearing a white T-shirt that said, 'Please keep my Dad home.'
"It's a very difficult situation," she said. "I really need my dad here because I can't do anything without him."