LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Faith community leaders and family members Monday protested the detention and planned deportation of a Los Angeles pastor who has been in the U.S. illegally for more than two decades.
Noe Carias was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on 25-year-old deportation orders stemming from Carias entering the U.S. without permission as a teenager.
The Evangelical Assemblies of God pastor has a wife, Victoria, who is a U.S. citizen, and two children ages 5 and 7.
Carias came to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was 13-years-old. Four years later the undocumented teenager married Victoria. She was 15.
A few years later Noe was deported. He returned illegally a short time later and the couple began raising their American children. Today, the family is separated and broken.
Evangelical Latino leaders along with members of the interfaith community gathered at the Federal Building in downtown L.A. calling for Carias’ freedom.
“It’s our prayer, hope and desire for ICE to grant the stay of removal for him,” said Assemblies of God Southern District Superintendent Dr. Sergio Navarette. “He’s married to Mrs. Carias, a U.S. Citizen, and they both have two precious children. As their Superintendent, I’ve known Pastor Carias for many years and I can testify of his faithful service to God and to our Hispanic people for many years.”
Immigration attorney Alma Rosa Neito said there have been hundreds of deportations like this one — involving immigrants whose only crime is crossing the border illegally.
“Many of these children that are left behind are United States citizens being impacted by having to be raised by a single parent or no parent at all,” said Neito. “The emotional trauma you’re creating to these children — U.S. citizens — it’s devastating.”
A GoFundMe page aimed at raising money for Carias’ legal battle has raised almost $2,000 in less than two weeks.