Congressman McGovern visits ICE fugitive at Amherst church

Amherst's First Congregational Church became Lucio Perez's temporary home on October 18

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst’s First Congregational Church became Lucio Perez temporary home on October18, after ICE issued a warrant for his arrest.

Congressman Jim McGovern visited Perez Tuesday, and supports the church providing sanctuary for Lucio.

“I wanted to express my solidarity with him I support his sanctuary here in the United States,” said Congressman Jim McGovern. “I think its unconscionable that the United States government is trying to separate him with his family.”

Perez is a married father of three. He’s not fluent in English, but participates in Sunday worship services and other church programs.

“He’s such a great father and amazing community member, we’ve really been inspired by him and his strength,” said Margaret Sawyer of Pioneer Valley Workers Center and Translator for Lucio.

The 35-year-old Guatemalan man has been staying here at the church since mid October. The church transformed an old meeting room into his bedroom, but they said we can’t show it because it would be a security risk.

We take keeping him safe very seriously,” said Russ Vernon-Jones, Moderator at Amherst’s First Congregrational Church. “We have someone in the church available to him 24/7. He decided that this was going to be his best way to pursue his legal case to be able to stay in the country.”

Vernon-Jones told 22News they will offer Perez sanctuary for as long as he wants to be there. He expects it will take “many months” for a decision to be made on his appeal.

Perez’s family will join him at the church this Thursday for a home-cooked thanksgiving dinner cooked by Lucio.