LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Wearing a blue prison uniform, the Rev. Noe Carias shuffles into the cramped room for an interview on national TV.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer tells Carias he has 20 minutes to tell his story.
“I think first my Lord, Jesus Christ, then my wife, my children, my church. I think God is going to make a miracle to release me, set me free from this place,” Carias said.
The pastor of Evangelical Assemblies of God church near downtown Los Angeles might need a miracle. The 42-year-old pastor is being held at the Adelanto Detention Facility for crossing the border illegally in the 1990s.
The Guatemalan native has been trying to correct his immigration status since 2014, and ICE had granted him yearly stays. That ended this year at his most recent ICE check-in, when Carias was informed he would be arrested and deported.
“I’ve never been arrested by police,” he says. “I’m a minister. I have my American citizen wife, being married for 14 years. I have two kids. I support the economy of this country and I pay my taxes. I never commit crime in this country.”
Noe’s wife, Vicky, broke down in front of their two children, age 5 and 6 and told them not to worry.
“I just tell them, ‘Daddy’s going to be home soon. Be patient. We have to just pray. We have a powerful God.'”
According to ICE, Carias is “a repeat immigration violator who has assumed multiple identities and nationalities over the years in order to evade federal immigration enforcement.”
Carias’ attorney, Noemi Ramirez, says that explanation oversimplifies her client’s history.
“We agree this government should remove the criminal, the bad people. The ones who come to this country to only do bad things,” Ramirez said. “I’m not that kind of person. I’m not a bad hombre. If they remove me, that’s a signal they want to remove every people (sic) who do good things, right things in the United States of America.”
While Carias awaits his fate, he says he is ministering others in the Adelanto Detention Center.
He says he even prays for President Donald Trump.