Immigrant taking sanctuary in Maplewood church


A man from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, an illegal immigrant, has been staying at Christ Church in Maplewood for a little over a month.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has an internal policy that states officers will not enter a place of worship to execute an order.

The church had been working with local advocate agencies that work with immigrants, its pastor, Rev. Rebecca Turner said Thursday. One of the agencies called them about month ago and asked if they would take an immigrant into sanctuary.

“We felt like we had been building toward that moment. I felt like we had to say yes,” Turner said. “Alex (Garcia) is an incredibly good human being. He’s a loving husband and father. He deserves every bit of support we can give to him.”

He and his wife have been married for 10 years and have five children. The marriage didn’t give Garcia legal citizenship because he moved to the United States illegally. He also can’t apply for citizenship because he was caught trying to cross the border in 2000, according to KFVS News.

“From what I understand it’s been a few decades since a church in St. Louis has taken an immigrant into sanctuary, Turner said. “I won’t be surprised if the need becomes much greater once it’s learned that we’ve taken this action.”

She said a coalition of churches, synagogues and clergy people are supporting the effort, and more continue to offer help.

“We’re not hiding him. We’re giving him sanctuary until the correct ICE official issues a stay of removal. That’s all we’re asking for. And let him go back home to his family. Until that time he will be here,” she said.

“Surely our country is not about the business of tearing out families apart,” Turner said. His kids need him. What has it come to if that’s what we’re doing? His wife is a citizen. His five children are citizens. They need him.”

Christ Church in Maplewood


  1. He may be here illegally, but it is our moral right to make laws that give Alex and other illegals a path to become legal citizens.

  2. This “Church” should read that book that they hold to be the supreme word of God.

    Romans 13:1-14

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. …

  3. Notre Dame had to offer sanctuary to Esmeralda in the acclaimed 1996 Disney film “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Makes you think.

  4. All across the board, I am curious why the government and religion have any connection period. Anything other than religion the government cant get tax money from is labeled illegal. Religion is the only thing that can make a good man do something bad.

    • “Religion is the only thing that can make a good man do something bad.”

      So you believe that an atheist cannot be a good person? Because an atheist, by definition, has no religion, and yet atheists can (and do) do bad things, but religion isn’t making them. The only way your statement makes any sense is if you believe that atheists are not capable of being good people.

  5. I love how people like to pick and choose which laws should be followed because of the story surrounding the situation. The law requires people to enter the Country legally.

    I am sure he is a great guy, but he broke the law. We either need to enforce the laws we have or change the laws, but we should not pick and choose which ones to follow. That path leads to anarchy.

    • Same goes for picking which passages of the Bible one wants to project onto other peoples’ behaviors and situations. Taken out of their appropriate historical contexts, you can always find two or three verses you can use to find fault with someone else.

  6. Thanks to Obama we have public policy that ties the hands of law enforcement in doing their jobs. The key word here is “illegal”…. This individual needs to be extricated from the “sanctuary” and deported back to Mexico where he can begin the proper procedures for entering this country legally. Without proper vetting we do not know if this individual poses a risk to our community. For all we know he could be a wanted rapist or child molester or worse in his home country.

    • “For all we know he could be a wanted rapist or child molester or worse in his home country.”

      We could just as easily make assumptions like that with citizens who have been living here from way back when. Why are you so quick to make assumptions like that with these people but not our own? The guy who shot up the Vegas concert recently certainly fit into the “or worse” category, yet he was able to walk into a hotel with tons of guns and ammo. Yet no one thought anything of that, at least before the fact.

      • Please consider where your assumptions come from. Our immigration system has been broken for years. There are not reasonable paths to legal entry or citizenship for many. Mr. Garcia escaped Honduras (one of the most dangerous counties in the world) for a better life. He is married to a U.S. citizen and is the loving father to 5 children, all of whom are U.S. citizens. He is a laborer and a kind and gentle man who would give the shirt off his back. He has the love and support of his rural Popular Bluff community where he had lived for over 13 years. Ripping him from his family and community makes no sense and is not American. I encourage you to learn more about Mr. Garcia’s story, why many immigrants make the very difficult decision to leave home and the suffering and dilemmas of immigrants in the U.S. today. ,

    • Oh look everyone, Uncle Jedd’s political commentary. Which Breitbart article did you read for that info?

  7. Regardless of all the opinions about its legality or morality, this is the type of thing that makes me think, “Just Maplewood being Maplewood.” It’s why I like living here.

  8. Glad to see the positive support for this man in thr comments here. For those few with a negative view: please remember this is a fellow human being, a father and husband who just wants to live with his family.

  9. As someone whose family has had membership with Christ Church for 70 years, I’m happy to have the chance to say publicly how proud I am of the congregation’s decision to help this gentleman. I’m proud of their compassion, kindness and ability to see the bigger picture. Forgiveness is everything. Sometimes “the letter of the law” just isn’t right and decent people must find a way to peacefully make changes. I believe each of us should look at our own lives and be grateful for the times we’ve received help and not be held as guilty for dumb things we did 17 or more years ago! Have some thought for this man’s family and pray for them all if your heart leads you toward compassion.

  10. A law is a law only because everyone agrees that it is. That doesn’t make all laws morally right. Almost everyone in this country is descended from an immigrant. BRAVO to Christ Church!

  11. I’m proud to live in a community that has places of worship that are willing to help immigrant families.
    Those that disparage this man (or the church’s efforts) should acknowledge that their critical viewpoints are only because they are speaking from a place of privilege.

  12. We support this wholeheartedly. This is the kind of church we want in our neighborhood and this is the kind of neighbors we want to be. We will be reaching out to this church to see if or how we might be able to join in serving this family.

  13. Then he should have come here legally if he wanted to make this his home. Do not like this in my community. Hope others don’t follow.

    • Am a long time resident of Maplewood. Raised here. Went all through school here. But lived in South America most of the 70s. Back here since 1980. Forty three year educator both there and in this area. There are lots of circumstances that can create a situation like this. Not as easy as you might think. I am proud that there are folks here who will stand up for what they think is right! It is quite American! ??

      • Pickett….Thanks for your input based on personal knowledge and experience! As I’ve scanned comments, so many have been simply argumentative opinion, or “put-downs.” Posting one’s personal opinion is fine, but I sincerely appreciate your “voice of reason.” Thanks again! Jill

  14. Humanity. We need humanity to take over. The Golden Rule applies here too. Gather together to help a man and his family. They have my prayers of hope and support.

  15. Is the church zoned residential and inspected by the city for living occupancy? Every other building in the city where people are going to live has to be inspected and the person living there has to have an occupancy permit.

    • Don- is that all you think of? Under the circumstances he is in? Can you not offer a positive comment of support or helpful solution? How would you want the community to rally if you were in this man’s position? Shame on you.

          • Take your hard earned money and support him.. not mine.. if you don’t like the law change it..I served in the Military and am damn proud of it, so you can bitch..

          • Joe, let’s see you pick lettuce in Arizona for less than minimum wage in the scorching hot sun, with no benefits. Or pay way more for a head of lettuce. Oh, and they pay into Social Security and likely won’t get to collect on it at retirement.

          • Joe, Also don’t say “hard- earned money” How “hard” someone earns money doesn’t change the monetary value of the actual currency.

        • Don, technically you’re an immigrant as well. Your descendants weren’t originally here. Thanks for playing bud.

          • Stan, technically I’m not an immigrant, I was born here. So we’re my parents. So we’re my grandparents, so we’re 2 of my great grandparents. The other 2 great grandparents immigrated here legally. I’m pro immigration, as long as it’s legal immigration.

          • im·mi·grant ˈiməɡrənt/ noun: immigrant; plural noun: immigrants. a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
            1. Therefore, someone who is born in this country is NOT an immigrant.
            2. Descendants are children, grandchildren, etc. The word you may have been looking for was ancestors, but then maybe you prefer to confuse definitions.

          • Actually, it sounds like you are really bitter about people having a better life than yours. Sad really.

        • You are a very sad sad person and very very ignorant of immigration laws. There is no way for a person to come lefally unless you marry or already have ties as in “family”. Please read and the comment and if uou have nothing good or nice to input “don’t speak.” Do you claim to have come from immigrants? Or were you ancestor natives? If your ancestors came from Europe then you are also a decendant of illegal immigration.

          • Kathy, please tell me you are kidding and are not actually that ignorant of our laws. Work visas, student visas, etc. foreign born people apply for and are granted US citizenship all the time. There is a long process involved, yes, but to say there is no way unless you marry a citizen or have family ties is downright false.

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