After months behind bars, Assemblies of God Pastor Noe Carias is a free man.
"He's doing good," his wife Victoria Carias tells the Los Angeles Daily News. "(We) feel very blessed that God did this miracle."
Immigration officials released Carias last week shortly after President Donald Trump announced his plan for the The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Carias' case garnered national attention since July, when he was detained by immigration authorities for illegally crossing the border in 1993.
"I am overjoyed by the news of Pastor Noe Carias' release, after over two months of detention by immigration authorities. Most importantly, I am grateful that this man of God will be reunited with his loving wife, Victoria and his two young children," Carias' friend and President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council Samuel Rodriguez says:
"From the beginning, the NHCLC stated we would not rest until Pastor Carias was released. Working behind the scenes with the White House, local and state officials as well as both Republican and Democratic members of Congress, we saw a powerful effect of the growing influence of our Hispanic community in action. Through our incredible member churches, friends, partners, co-laborers and prayer warriors, we were privileged to help mobilize a large coalition of Hispanic leaders, calling out, in a unified voice on Noe's behalf. We are all giving thanks that these efforts were not in vain, and that our request was heard loud and clear. We did all of this with the firm belief that access leads to conversations, which leads to conviction, which leads to compassion.
"And yet, while we are grateful, we should never have gone through such a heart-wrenching process in the first place. We should be deporting pushers, not pastors. Noe's story is a powerful reminder of just how desperate our nation is for comprehensive immigration reform," Rodriguez says.
Carias was arrested in July but never gave up hope.
"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," Carrias tells CNN. "I've never been arrested by police. 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 [am] paying my taxes. I never commit crime in this country."
Carias crossed the border illegally more than two decades ago after he was kidnapped and held hostage by guerrillas in his native Guatemala. According to his family, he was allowed to remain in the United States as long as he regularly met with immigration officials.
Carias and his wife Victoria pastor an Assemblies of God church in Los Angeles. She and their children are U.S. citizens.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.
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