HOUSTON – Attorneys for the family of an undocumented Houston father just days away from deportation are trying an unusual last-minute legal tactic to allow him to stay in the United States.

On Monday in downtown Houston, lawyers filed a federal lawsuit arguing that deporting Juan Rodriguez would violate the religious beliefs of Rodriguez and his family; an approach they say has never been tried on an immigration case.

Family attorneys claim a deportation would violate the family’s Seventh-Day Adventist Christian beliefs, specifically a principle requiring families to stay together.

The legal team is banking on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected” and in 2014 was used to protect Hobby Lobby against some requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Rodriguez has been in the United States illegally for more than a decade after fleeing violence in El Salvador. He had been allowed to stay and work legally in the U.S., if he checked in regularly with immigration officials.

Family members say Rodriguez did so 25 times without any issue, but at his last check-in in February, immigration officials told him he would be deported on June 29.

They allowed him to stay long enough to see his oldest of three daughters, Karen, graduate from high school.

“When the clock is ticking, when time’s running out, you learn how much your family means to you,” said Karen Rodriguez, 18, on Monday.

Attorneys for the…