Faith groups around the Commonwealth are mobilizing to support a Northern Virginia pastor who may soon be deported.
Pastor Juan Gutierrez typically leads a small service of about 10 to 20 members at his home every Saturday in Dumfries, Virginia. But on Saturday, that number is expected to grow for a day-long vigil in support of his family.
Gutierrez went to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office for his usual check-in in late June, 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.
ICE is now enforcing an order of removal Gutierrez received 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.
An ICE official confirmed to News4 that Gutierrez does 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 couple has a son in the U.S. Air Force and a 13-year-old daughter.