SEATTLE (AP) - Community members are rallying behind a father of three who is now seeking sanctuary at a Seattle church after Lakewood officials apparently refused to sign off on his visa application.

Jose Robles[1] was facing deportation after living in the country illegally for 18 years.

He said he didn’t take his flight back to Mexico and instead was accepted by the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle on Thursday.

Faith leaders and immigration activists say that Robles[2] sought a U-Visa, which he may have qualified for because he was recently the victim of an armed robbery and helped Lakewood police solve the crime.

Lakewood city officials citing privacy laws wouldn’t discuss the case but said it had declined half of the 14 U-Visa forms submitted to them this year.

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