Members of the Annapolis faith community rallied around a man facing deportation Monday, in a march and demonstration in downtown Baltimore.
Guillermo Recinos Morales lived in Brooklyn in Baltimore and worked frequently in Annapolis, said The Rev. Ryan Sirmons, pastor of the United Church of Christ of Annapolis.
Morales is an undocumented immigrant who has been at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center since he was detained April 4 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents outside his home. Morales, who is a handyman and an artist, was headed to a job in Annapolis, his daughter Astrid Recinos said.
Since then, Sirmons and the Annapolis Sanctuary Network have worked to provide resources for Morales, his wife, four children and seven grandchildren. The network helped the family relocate to Annapolis following Morales' detainment, Sirmons said.
Kelly Price and Rebecca Forte of the Annapolis Sanctuary Network said the group has really rallied around Morales. He's that "classic case of someone who's done nothing wrong," the women said, adding Morales has been in the country for 12 years, and has worked and paid taxes.
Morales came to the United States in 2005 to escape violence in El Salvador, organizers said.
His daughter, Astrid Recinos, said he was arrested by border patrol then but never received mailed notice to appear.
Morales was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on April 4 on his way to a job in Annapolis, Recinos said. He was told he had a deportation order from 2005, Recinos said.
Morales lost a motion last week to reopen an order for his deportation, an action his attorneys are appealing. He could be deported at any time, Recinos said.
In an email Monday, Elsy Ramos of the law firm Maggio Kattar Nahajzer + Alexander P.C. said attorneys will also file an emergency motion to stay Morales' deportation.
ICE officials did not return a request for comment.
During the rally Monday organizers were calling for immigration officials to reopen Morales' case so he can seek asylum in America. That's the ultimate goal, the sanctuary network said.
The Annapolis residents were some of the hundreds of people who rallied in support of Morales Monday. The rally was organized by the United Church of Christ, CASA, and the Annapolis Sanctuary Network.
Hundreds met at the Baltimore Convention Center and marched to the front of the G.H. Fallon Federal Building, the location of the Baltimore Immigration Customs Office.
Sirmons, who spoke at the rally, and was joined by other United Church of Christ reverends from across the country. The group is holding its national conference, the General Synod, in Baltimore from June 30 to July 4.
During the rally, Sirmons talked about the large sculptures of chickens which have been placed along West Street in Annapolis. The birds are one of Morales' connections to the city, Sirmons said.
"Guillermo made those chickens," Sirmons said. "He is as much a part of the fabric of the City of Annapolis as you or I or anyone else who is there."
Recinos, who now lives in Annapolis with her family, spoke about her father before and during the rally. He hasn't committed any crimes, she said.
Her father came to the country to establish a life for the rest of the family, Recinos said. She joined him in America five years later and still recalls their reunion at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport after five years apart.
It was the happiest day of her life, she said, and now she faces being separated from him again.
He was the type of person who would take his grandchildren to the park, even if he was tired after work, she said. Those grandchildren now wait by the window, wanting to see him come back so they can hug him, she said.
"My father always told us to do the right things in life," Recinos said. "[To] never hurt anybody."
Recinos gave a speech in Spanish at the rally. Price, of the Annapolis Sanctuary Network, read a translated version after her.
"My father has never demonstrated selfish actions. To the contrary, his actions have shown only honesty and courage, to give a better life to my mother and my brother and sisters," Price said, reading the translated speech.
Other leaders from the United Church of Christ spoke at the event.
The church approved a resolution during its conference to become an immigrant-welcoming church, "as it recognizes the ongoing struggles of refugees and migrants who come to the United States seeking safety, security, freedom and opportunity but instead experience suffering as they fear raids, deportation, and witness their families being torn apart."
Staff writer Amanda Yeager contributed to this report.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Kelly Price of the Annapolis Sanctuary Network.