Help along the way
Garcia, after his second entry, found employment as a construction worker in Poplar Bluff, married and started a family, living quietly in the small Missouri town.
But in 2015, he caught the attention of immigration officials when he accompanied his sister to an immigration check-in appointment at an ICE office in Kansas City. There, he was linked to the deportation order issued in 2000, when, as a 19-year-old, he first tried to enter the U.S. illegally.
With the help of immigration attorneys, Garcia was twice granted a one-year reprieve to stay in the country. But in 2017, Garcia’s third request for a reprieve was denied.
Rather than turn himself in, Garcia sought refuge in Maplewood under a federal guidance that classified churches, hospitals and schools as “sensitive locations” where federal immigration officials should not carry out enforcement actions.
The deportation order prevented Garcia from seeking citizenship with Carly’s sponsorship, requiring him to leave the country for 10 years before being allowed to apply for citizenship, his attorney Nicole Cortes said.
“The policies then were just as unjust as they are today and existing law provided no path for Alex,” Cortes said. “The last 3½ years, it’s just been an endless march to justice little by little, but they have not stopped and neither have those supporting them.”