An immigrant who sought refuge from deportation in a North Carolina church for 11 months was arrested Friday after arriving at an appointment with immigration officials.
Mexican national Samuel Oliver-Bruno, 47, was detained at a Raleigh-area immigration office, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement news release.
The advocacy group Alerta Migratoria NC said in a statement that Oliver-Bruno went to have fingerprints taken so he could apply to stay in North Carolina with his wife and son. He has been living in CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham since late 2017 to avoid the reach of immigration officers, who generally avoid making arrests at churches and other sensitive locations.
ICE said Oliver-Bruno, who has lived in North Carolina for two decades, had no legal basis to be in the U.S. and had exhausted his “extensive” appeals. Oliver-Bruno pleaded guilty in 2014 to using false documents to try to re-enter the U.S. in Texas after a trip outside the country, according to court documents.
Several dozen protesters came to the federal immigration office in Morrisville in hopes of dissuading authorities from detaining Oliver-Bruno. Local television footage showed some supporters being led away in handcuffs by deputies after they apparently refused to disperse. A sheriff’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email asking about the additional arrests.
Alerta Migratoria NC said Oliver-Bruno had filed an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services seeking to avoid deportation. In a statement preceding his arrest, the group said he was asked to come in for a biometric screening as part of the application, and he was aware of the risks: “To comply with this request, Samuel will have to leave sanctuary and risk getting detained.”
A spokeswoman for USCIS didn’t immediately respond to a message asking about what type of application Oliver-Bruno had made to stay in the U.S.