Undocumented man arrested after leaving church to meet with immigration authorities

Undocumented man arrested after leaving church to meet with immigration authorities
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An undocumented man was arrested in North Carolina on Friday after leaving a church to meet for a scheduled appointment with immigration officials, The News & Observer reported.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno, 47, was living in the basement of Durham's CityWell United Methodist Church for nearly a year while he petitioned for his deportation to Mexico to be delayed. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not make arrests in churches.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asked Oliver-Bruno to appear in person to provide his fingerprints in order for his petition to be processed. He was then arrested inside the USCIS office, the paper reported.

“Mr. Oliver-Bruno is a convicted criminal who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law, has no outstanding appeals, and has no legal basis to remain in the U.S.,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Bryan Cox told The News & Observer in a statement.

Faith leaders and church members who had accompanied Oliver-Bruno formed a human wall around the vehicle taking him to detention, singing “Amazing Grace” and chanting “Let him stay!” Several were arrested, according to CNN

"It was presented as a legitimate appointment but ICE utilized due process as bait," Cleve May, a pastor at the church, told CNN. "So we went to the appointment with him, to offer protection, knowing that ICE could not be trusted. We were thinking we would be in and out in 30 minutes."

Reps. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceDemocrats advance more spending bills, defying Trump budget requests Ahead of infrastructure talks, House Democrats release 7B bill House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war MORE (D-N.C.) and G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment WHIP LIST: Number of Democrats backing Trump impeachment inquiry rises MORE (D-N.C.) released a joint statement following  Oliver-Bruno's arrest, saying the man was “entrapped” and vowing to fight his arrest.

“Samuel’s sudden and inappropriate arrest in the middle of the Thanksgiving season reflects the callous and cruel approach we’ve come to expect from the Trump administration. As Members of Congress representing the Durham community, we will continue to do everything in our power to keep the Oliver-Bruno family together,” they said.

“In a call with us this afternoon, ICE has committed to allow Mr. Oliver-Bruno to remain in the U.S. in detention while his case is adjudicated. While this means he will not be immediately deported, we remain committed to fighting for his release.” 

Oliver-Bruno was arrested in El Paso, Texas, in 2014 after using a Texas birth certificate to enter the U.S., according to CNN. He lived for 11 months in sanctuary at the Durham church, where he helped with renovations, including a bedroom and shower after CityWell agreed to take him in the facility.

Oliver-Bruno said he feared he will be deported, leaving behind his son and wife, who has lupus and depends on her husband financially, the News & Observer reported.