DENVER (CBS4) – If Arturo Hernandez walks out of a Denver church, even onto the steps, he risks being arrested and deported. He’s one of many immigrants dealt a blow Tuesday when they learned that President Obama’s program, which aims to keep some immigrants in the country, will continue to be on hold.

Arturo Hernandez (credit: CBS)

Arturo Hernandez (credit: CBS)

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Hernandez, from Mexico, has been living at the First Unitarian Society of Denver for seven months. The church is considered a sanctuary — a safe place for immigrants like him who are facing deportation.

“This is tough for me … I need my normal life, I need to come back home with my family — my daughters and my wife. I’ve been married 16 years and we’ve never been separated,” Hernandez said.

On Tuesday Hernandez learned that a federal appeals court refused to lift a hold on the president’s executive action that would shield millions of immigrants from deportation. The states say it’s unconstitutional.

“I hope soon the judges get a good decision for the families,” he said.

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Arturo Hernandez with his family in December (credit: CBS)

Arturo Hernandez with his family in December (credit: CBS)

Federal judges ruled that Obama’s order must remain on hold while 26 states sue to overturn it, essentially until the lawsuit is resolved.

For Hernandez, it means continuing to live in the church and hoping that his attorney can move his case along faster.

“I hope soon we can get … (to) reopen my case and … (I can) stay here and continue to be together with my family,” he said.

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There are about five million immigrants that would benefit from the president’s executive order.