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 pays tribute to Walter Jones Pelosi runs tight ship as more stormy waters await No GOP appetite for a second shutdown MORE (N.C.) and G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldWinners and losers in the border security deal Pelosi runs tight ship as more stormy waters await Lean job market for Dems on K Street 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.

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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 NielsenImmigrant advocacy groups seek restraining order to block Trump asylum policy The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration 2,000 asylum seekers return home, decide to stay in Mexico: report 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.