PELHAM, N.H. (CBS) – A New Hampshire church is rallying behind a member of their congregation.
Jacob Leonce is set to be deported back to Saint Lucia within two weeks – a move that’ll rip him away from his wife and two children.
“I’m their dad. That’s all they know. They know me as being their father, nobody else,” Leonce said.
Leonce is fighting to stay with his family in Haverhill after a request to extend his work visa was denied in December.
The New England Pentecostal Church lifted him up through song and prayer at a send-off service Sunday morning.
“Whenever we need something done, his family is always there to help out,” Bishop Stanley Choate New England Pentecostal Ministries said.
The church’s pastor told WBZ-TV it appears his friend is getting caught up in a national debate over immigration.
“We need to have a more humane way of dealing with this situation and not just automatically deport them,” Choate said.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed the need for a comprehensive immigration bill during a town hall event in Malden.
“Part of what we need to work on is ‘Dreamers,’ but we also need to work on those with temporary protective status,” Warren said.
Leonce was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2007 after police mistook him for another man. He’s been fighting to stay in this country ever since.
“I came here on a valid visa and I did everything I could to keep status,” Leonce said.
With a one-way ticket to Saint Lucia booked, the Leonce family and the church are praying for a miracle to keep them together.
“It’s not just about Leonce’s family. It’s about all families,” Choate said.