Arturo Hernandez Garcia, Former Sanctuary-Seeker, Reportedly Detained by ICE

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m: A statement from ICE has been included at the bottom of this article.

Arturo Hernandez Garcia, a Mexican immigrant who made headlines when he spent nine months in sanctuary during 2015 at the First Unitarian Society in Denver, has reportedly been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Hernandez Garcia was the first person in Colorado to take sanctuary and was the subject of a Westword cover story, "Sacred Ground." He's been fighting his deportation since leaving sanctuary in July 2015.

Multiple immigrant advocacy groups in Colorado are reporting via Facebook that Hernandez Garcia was detained at his workplace late Wednesday morning. A post from the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, which is currently protecting Jeanette Vizguerra in the same church that Hernandez Garcia stayed in, is embedded below. We will update more as we learn of developments.

The following is a statement sent by ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok:

On April 26, 2017, officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) located Arturo Armando Hernandez Garcia, 44, from Mexico, outside his place of employment and arrested him for immigration violations based on his final order of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. Hernandez Garcia first entered the United States at El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 18, 2003, on a six-month visitor visa. ICE first encountered Hernandez Garcia in March 2010 following his arrest on local criminal charges. In October 2012, a federal immigration judge granted his request for voluntary departure within 60 days. Hernandez Garcia did not return to Mexico as he agreed by Dec. 1, 2012. On Feb. 27, 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed Hernandez Garcia’s appeal of the judge’s decision. The BIA extended his voluntary departure period an additional 60 days until April 28, 2014. His final order of removal became effective April 29, 2014, when Hernandez Garcia failed to depart the United States in compliance with the court order. Hernandez Garcia’s applications for stays of removal were denied by ICE May 8, 2014, and March 16, 2015. Hernandez Garcia has overstayed his original six-month visa by nearly 14 years. He has exhausted his petitions through the immigration courts and through ICE. He is currently in ICE custody pending his removal.

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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker