Community Saddened by Deportation of Northern Virginia Pastor - NBC4 Washington

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Community Saddened by Deportation of Northern Virginia Pastor

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    A pastor in Dumfries, Virginia, has been separated from his family and will likely be deported. News4's Julie Carey reports a community of faith is rallying together to pray that he can return to his family. (Published Friday, July 21, 2017)

    A Northern Virginia community is grieving after a well-loved pastor was deported to Peru.

    Pastor Juan Gutierrez was deported Thursday, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy announced. 

    Gutierrez typically led a small service of about 10 to 20 members at his home every Saturday in Dumfries, Virginia. But that all changed earlier this summer. 

    Gutierrez went to a Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office for his usual check-in, when he was suddenly taken into custody.

    "I say why? He do everything like the rules say," Gutierrez 's wife Aurelia Sicha said. "I was really sure surprised. I started to cry."

    Gutierrez came to the U.S. from Peru in 2002 with a visa to play music. Sicha, who is a U.S. citizen, became pregnant, and he stayed to help care for their family.

    He received an order of removal from ICE in 2012. 

    "I understand my husband broke the rules of this country because he's here without the visa, but he's a good man. Never he do [anything] wrong. He's a pastor. He's a preacher. The word of God," Sicha said last month.

    An ICE official confirmed to News4 that Gutierrez did not have a criminal record, writing in a statement, "As DHS Secretary Kelly and Acting ICE Director Homan have stated repeatedly, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats; however, no class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal."

    The Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy said Sicha now fears the family will lose their home.

    "We call on ICE to immediately release immigrants being detained and end deportations. Our communities are suffering," a spokeswoman for the group said. 

    The couple has a son in the U.S. Air Force and a 13-year-old daughter.