NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A native of Ecuador living in Connecticut who took sanctuary inside a New Haven church last summer to avoid deportation can go home to his family.

An attorney for Marco Reyes Alvarez said Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security has agreed not to arrest, detain or deport Alvarez while his appeals paperwork is being processed. He will remain on GPS monitoring.

“It means he can go home with his family for, we don’t know how long,” attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker told The Hartford Courant. “We know that at any point the second circuit (appeals court) could make a decision on his case, but while those are pending the Department of Homeland Security, they won’t deport him.”

Alvarez entered the U.S. illegally in 1997 and has been living in Meriden. The father of three was supposed to board a plane to Ecuador on Aug. 8 but instead took refuge inside the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church.

His supporters said a family member was murdered in Ecuador and he fears for his life if he returns.

Alvarez and his wife were overcome with emotion when they received the news on Wednesday. The New Haven Register reported that Alvarez had been preparing for a Thanksgiving meal in the church basement.

“You know, I am very, very happy,” Alvarez said. “Sorry, I don’t have a word right now. I’m sorry.”

O’Neil-Baker said she filed a petition for review with the court in New York on Monday.

“We’re hoping the second circuit will rule in our favor and reopen his old removal order so he can pursue claims for asylum,” O’Neil-Baker said.