27 supporters arrested when man detained after leaving sanctuary in Durham to meet with immigration officials

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Saturday, November 24, 2018
Undocumented man arrested in Morrisville after leaving sanctuary to meet with immigration officials
Undocumented man arrested in Morrisville after leaving sanctuary to meet with immigration officials

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Morrisville police confirmed 27 people were arrested during a demonstration to support Samuel Oliver-Bruno, an undocumented immigrant who was detained by ICE during his appointment at the immigration office on Friday.

Supporters say Oliver-Bruno, 47, of Mexico, went to the immigration office Friday morning for a biometrics appointment and was detained.

According to a news release from Alerta Migratoria, the USCIS requested Oliver-Bruno to appear in person to provide fingerprints, a necessary step for his petition for deferred deportation, an immigrants rights advocacy organization in North Carolina.

"ICE officials in plain clothes surrounded Samuel and arrested him," the release said. "The plainclothes ICE officers forced Samuel into a van in the rear of the office, where supporters who were waiting outside the office rushed to block the vehicle."

The protesters blocked the vehicle Oliver-Bruno was in and refused to move after police warned them to move.

Morrisville police said they attempted to communicate a peaceful resolution with identified leaders in the group and after about 30 minutes, officers issued two orders to disperse or the crowd would be arrested.

Arrests were then made since the crowd refused to move.

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Oliver-Bruno had been living in the basement of CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, considered a sanctuary, for the past 11 months.

"His wife is very, very, very sick," said Viridiana Martinez, of Alerta Migratoria NC. "He was coming because his wife was having open heart surgery."

Oliver-Bruno's son, Daniel Oliver-Perez, 19, was also arrested and faces charges of assault of a government official.

Oliver-Perez could face potential federal criminal charges but that will be up to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Oliver-Perez was trying to keep officers from taking his father away, witnesses tell ABC11.

ICE said Oliver-Bruno will be taken to a detention center.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present Mexican national Samuel Oliver-Bruno during a targeted enforcement action Nov. 23 in metro Raleigh, North Carolina. 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. Mr. Oliver-Bruno was initially arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, in May 2014 while attempting to illegally enter the U.S. using fraudulent identity documents. He was paroled into the country solely for federal criminal prosecution and convicted in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in May 2014. ICE subsequently encountered Mr. Oliver-Bruno in June 2014 and his case has been subject to extensive appeals, which ultimately concluded Mr. Oliver-Bruno has no legal basis to remain in the U.S.," said ICE spokesman Bryan D. Cox.

Oliver-Bruno has no other criminal history, an ICE spokesman said.

Protesters moved to an ICE field office and Cary and the Wake County Detention Center in Raleigh to show their support for Oliver-Bruno and those arrested.

Morrisville police officers did not participate in the active arrest of Oliver-Bruno.

Oliver-Bruno was later taken to a detention center in Georgia.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D - NC-01) and David Price (D-NC-04) released the statement below:

"We are extremely alarmed by Samuel Oliver-Bruno's abrupt arrest this morning by ICE agents at the USCIS office in Morrisville, N.C. Mr. Oliver-Bruno has lived in the United States for more than two decades and has spent the last year living in sanctuary in Durham.

"It appears ICE has acted in concert with officials at USCIS, who instructed Mr. Oliver-Bruno to appear at local USCIS offices to discuss his deferred deportation. He was then apprehended by plainclothes ICE agents upon entering the building. At best, Mr. Oliver-Bruno was presented with a catch-22 dilemma; at worst, he was entrapped. It's clear that while Mr. Oliver-Bruno was attempting to follow the law in pursuit of his legal petition, ICE coordinated with USCIS to target him upon his leaving the City Well United Methodist Church.

"Samuel, his wife Julia, and his 19-year-old son Daniel have been productive and upstanding members of the community for many years, with no serious criminal records and deep ties in the faith community. Julia Perez Pacheco has been diagnosed with Lupus and depends on Samuel, the sole provider for their family, to pay for her medical treatment. Additionally, Daniel Perez depends on his father's financial and emotional support as he pursues a college degree. As we highlighted for USCIS officials earlier this month, Mr. Oliver-Bruno's removal from the U.S. would result in severe hardship for his family, with his wife not being able to receive the medical treatment she needs.

"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. 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."