Mexican immigrant deported from US after seeking refuge in a church for a year
Samuel Oliver-Bruno had been living at CityWell United Methodist Church since late 2017. (The Charlotte Observer via AP: Casey Toth)
A Mexican immigrant who sought refuge in a North Carolina church for nearly a year has been deported.
- Samuel Oliver-Bruno lived in the US for over two decades
- He was arrested when he left the church to complete an application to stay in the US
- Protesters and politicians have urged authorities to release him, to no avail
Samuel Oliver-Bruno, 47, was removed from the US and taken to Mexico, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Bryan Cox.
Mr Oliver-Bruno was arrested on November 23 at an immigration office near Raleigh after he left the church to have his fingerprints taken as part of an application to stay in the US to financially support his son and ailing wife.
His application to stay in the US was denied earlier this week.
He had been living in the Durham church since late 2017 to avoid immigration officers, who generally do not make arrests in churches and other sensitive locations.
Plainclothes officers detained him when he entered the Morrisville office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services last week.
Outside the office, more than two dozen of his supporters were arrested on misdemeanour charges including resisting officers, after some of them blocked the van being used to drive Mr Oliver-Bruno away.
Dozens have held rallies protesting Mr Oliver-Bruno’s deportation since his arrest. (The News & Observer via AP: Travis Long)
ICE previously said Mr Oliver-Bruno, who has lived in the US for two decades, had no legal basis to be in the country.
He pleaded guilty in 2014 to using false documents to try to re-enter the US in Texas after a trip outside the country, according to court records.
Since his arrest, his supporters have held rallies and organised a campaign to lobby elected officials and the US Government to reverse its decision.
Democratic US Congressmen David Price and GK Butterfield, both of North Carolina, had urged Homeland Security to release him, calling his treatment unacceptable.