Undocumented immigrant takes sanctuary at Durham church

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Mexican man is not giving up his fight to stay in the United States and a church in Durham is his first line of defense.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno is the second undocumented immigrant to take sanctuary at a church in the Triangle and the fifth to do so in North Carolina.

Oliver-Bruno says if he’s deported, his wife could die.

He’s taking sanctuary at CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham.

“My body gives in,” Julia Perez-Pacheco, Oliver-Bruno’s wife said through a translator. “It’s like I can’t even pick up a cup of water and that’s why I need my husband here.”

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

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 a month ago, his request was denied.

“That’s why I’m asking for support, not just for me, for everyone in this situation,” Oliver-Bruno said through a translator. “It affects my whole family.”

Oliver-Bruno is the sole breadwinner and he works to pay for his wife’s medical treatments.

His son is an American citizen and a senior in high school in Greenville.

“I might have to drop out to support my mom, but I don’t want to because I have a bright future,” said Oliver-Bruno’s son, Daniel Oliver-Perez.

ICE officials say there is nothing legally stopping them from arresting an undocumented immigrant at a church.

“It’s momentum building where churches are realizing because of a memo that ICE has that discourages them from executing raids in sensitive places, churches have a unique opportunity to step into the situation and be neighbors to our neighbors,” said Pastor Cleve May with CityWell United Methodist Church.

Pastor Cleve May says he thinks it’s unlikely he or any of the other pastors will face legal consequences, but acknowledges it is a possibility. He says it’s a risk that CityWell Church is more than willing to take.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

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