North Carolina police arrested 27 people Friday for trying to prevent an Immigration and Customs Enforcement van from leaving with a Mexican man during an immigration appointment.
Samuel Oliver-Bruno, an undocumented Mexican national, arrived at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Morrisville at 8:45 a.m. for a biometrics scan, according to Alerta Migratoria, an immigrants rights advocacy organization in North Carolina. The scan was part a petition for deferred action, which would allow him to stay in the country, the news release said.
He was accompanied by community members including congregants from CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, where he’s been living in “protective sanctuary” for nearly a year. Oliver-Bruno “decided to attend the appointment because this was his only option to remain active in the immigration process,” according to a statement from the church.
Shortly after he entered the USCIS office with his son Daniel, Oliver-Bruno was arrested by plainclothes ICE officers who forced him into a van. Daniel, who was born in the United States, was also arrested for allegedly assaulting an ICE officer.
Supporters waiting outside the office rushed to block the vehicle. Morrisville police arrived on the scene around 9:15 a.m. according to a Facebook post from the department. After two hours of attempting to “de-escalate the situation and negotiate a peaceful resolution,” police started detaining more than 20 people who refused to leave.
By 11:25 a.m., the van was able to drive out of the area.
Cleve May, a pastor at CityWell, posted an hour-long video of the encounter.
Congressmen David Price and G.K. Butterfield, both Democrats, released a joint statement saying ICE appears to have coordinated with USCIS to target Oliver-Bruno.
“We are extremely alarmed by Samuel Oliver-Bruno’s abrupt arrest,” the statement read. “At best, Mr. Oliver-Bruno was presented with a Catch-22 dilemma; at worst, he was entrapped.”
A group of people gathered Monday at the Wake Detention Center to protest Oliver-Bruno’s detention, WRAL-TV reported. Oliver-Bruno has been transferred to Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, according to ICE records.
Oliver-Bruno came to the United States in 1994, to work construction in
Greenville, according to CityWell. His met his wife, Julia Perez Pacheco, who gave birth to their son in 1999.
In 2011, Oliver-Bruno’s family moved back to Mexico but, after two years, Julia’s health declined, the church said. Julia, who suffers from lupus, moved back to the U.S. with Daniel and later underwent open-heart surgery. Oliver-Bruno attempted to join his family a few months later and was detained at the border.
He said he was later released on a stay of removal, which he said he was granted every year until November 2017.
Contributing: WCNC-TV, Charlotte
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
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