AP: Mexican immigrant who sought refuge at Durham church has been deported

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Mexican immigrant who had sought refuge in a Durham church was deported Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Samuel Oliver-Bruno on Nov. 23 and transferred him to the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia on Monday. He had been living at the CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, taking sanctuary there for nearly a year.

He left the church on Nov. 23 for a fingerprinting appointment at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Morrisville. He was then transferred to a facility in Georgia.

A demonstration took place in Morrisville on Nov. 23. Several people surrounded an ICE van. Morrisville police said 27 people were detained for refusing to leave. Among those arrested was Oliver-Bruno’s son, 19-year-old Daniel Oliver Perez. An arrest warrant said he jumped on the back of an ICE agent. 

Oliver-Bruno came into the country illegally in 2014 to be with his sick wife, who he said was undergoing open heart surgery.

“Some would say that Mr. Oliver-Bruno’s ability to even remain in the country demonstrates that the immigration laws are broken because he committed a violation in 2014,” said Shawn Fields, who is an assistant professor at Campbell University. He specializes in immigration law.

“Others, I think in the reform community looking at this case, would see we need to reform our laws to make it easier for individuals like Mr. Oliver-Bruno to regularize their status to be here with lawful residents like immediate family members; like a sick wife.”

Border patrol detained Oliver-Bruno at the border.

He says they later released him on a stay of removal, which he says he has been granted every year since, but in November 2017, his request was denied.

Oliver-Bruno had been taking sanctuary at CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham. He petitioned for deferred deportation with ICE, according to a release from Alerta Migratoria NC.

Officials wanted him in their office for a “biometrics appointment,” which is what was scheduled on Nov. 23.

This story will be updated.

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