Immigrant who sought refuge in NC church denied request to stay in US: lawmakers

Immigrant who sought refuge in NC church denied request to stay in US: lawmakers
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An immigrant who was arrested after seeking refuge in a North Carolina church was denied a formal request to stay in the U.S., Democratic Reps. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceHouse panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule MORE (N.C.) and G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldRep. Clyburn on Confederate statues: Mob action is no answer House passes police reform bill that faces dead end in Senate Black Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (N.C.) said in a joint statement.

Price and Butterfield have been fighting to keep Samuel Oliver-Bruno in the U.S. after reports emerged that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials arrested him last Friday. Oliver-Bruno, 47, had been living in the basement of the CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, N.C., for nearly a year while he petitioned for his deportation to Mexico to be delayed.


Oliver-Bruno was reportedly arrested when he left the church to meet immigration officials for a scheduled appointment.

The congressmen are now calling on ICE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump's acting ICE chief to leave post Trump's fight with city leaders escalates Neo-Nazi pleads guilty to 'swatting' Black church, Cabinet official, journalists MORE to reverse their decision to deny his formal request for deferred deportation. They say ICE has told Oliver-Bruno that he will be deported immediately.

ICE said in a statement to The Hill that after extensive appeals, it determined Oliver-Bruno "has no legal basis to remain in the U.S." The agency called him a "convicted criminal who has received all appropriate legal process under federal law."

Oliver-Bruno's son, Daniel Oliver-Perez, was arrested for assaulting a federal law enforcement officer on Friday while he participated in a protest by members of the community against his father's arrest. Oliver-Perez was released from jail on Friday facing a state criminal charge of assault on a government official. He could also face federal charges.

Oliver-Bruno was still listed as being in a Georgia detention center Tuesday morning, The Associated Press reported.

“Mr. Oliver-Bruno’s case exemplifies the anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration," Price and Butterfield said in a joint statement. "We are calling on Secretary Nielsen tonight to reverse Mr. Oliver-Bruno’s order of removal and will call for a full and thorough investigation into the Department’s improper efforts to apprehend Mr. Oliver-Bruno."

Activists and members of Durham's faith community have rallied around Oliver-Bruno's case, claiming immigration authorities cornered him into the arrest.

Twenty-seven members of the church where Oliver-Bruno was staying were arrested Friday when they blocked an ICE van taking him away.

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.

He has said he fears deportation because he will be leaving behind his son and wife, who has lupus and depends on her husband financially, The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., reported.

Updated at 12:48 p.m.