Immigrant who spent year hiding in church walks free

Javier Flores Garcia embraces his son Javier during a news conference outside of the Arch Street United Methodist Church and in view of City Hall, right, in Philadelphia, on Oct. 11, 2017. 

Matt Rourke / AP

PHILADELPHIA -- A man who'd been living in a Philadelphia church for nearly a year to avoid deportation to Mexico has walked free. 

Javier Flores Garcia left the Arch Street Methodist Church on Wednesday, surrounded by his family. He hugged his two young sons and a daughter after walking free, CBS Philadelphia reports.

Garcia crossed into the U.S. without proper paperwork in 1997 and had been caught and returned to Mexico multiple times.

In 2004, Garcia was stabbed and worked with the government to capture the men responsible. His actions made him eligible for a special type of visa for people who help police. 

Garcia's attorney says his client has been granted deferred action, which allows him to live and work in the country.  Garcia could get his visa as early as next year, according to CBS Philadelphia.  

Garcia took sanctuary in the church last November, when he was to report for deportation. He says he plans to stay in Philadelphia.