It was a trap.

Samuel Oliver-Bruno, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, didn’t need to leave the Durham church where he’s been taking sanctuary for eleven months Friday morning. He knew stepping foot outside the church risked arrest and deportation, but he chose to, in good faith, get a biometric screening to comply with part of his pending asylum petition.

At about 8:45 a.m., Oliver-Bruno entered the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Morrisville, where he was thrown on the ground by ICE officers and arrested, according to Viridiana Martinez of Alerta Migratoria. He was taken outside and placed in a beige van with dark tinted windows.

“He was doing everything by the book,” says Faisal Khan of the Carolina Peace Center. “It was a trap to get him arrested. They trap people. It’s the only way they can get them. It’s pathetic.”

Protesters formed a human chain around the van to prevent ICE from taking Oliver-Bruno from the parking lot, chanting for his immediate release. 

About two dozen protesters were arrested for blocking the van, according to a Morrisville spokesperson. Among those taken into custody was Oliver-Bruno’s nineteen-year-old son Daniel Oliver-Perez, Martinez said. Officials from Wake County and Morrisville police officers have not disclosed details on the arrests or charges involved. 

Oliver-Bruno crossed the border illegally from Mexico in 1994. He worked construction and lived in Greenville with his wife, who suffers from lupus, and son. He was issued final orders of deportation after attempting to re-enter the country in 2014 with fraudulent identification, according to ICE spokesman Bryan Cox. He was admitted into the country “solely for federal criminal prosecution and convicted,” Cox says.

ICE practiced discretion in enforcing Oliver-Bruno’s case until last December, when Oliver-Bruno was forced to leave his family behind and seek sanctuary in Durham’s CityWell church to avoid deportation. He remained on church grounds until Friday. 

Oliver-Bruno’s arrest was a “targeted enforcement action,” Cox says. 

“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,” Cox says. 

By 1:00 p.m., about fifty demonstrators had gathered outside Cary ICE offices, where they believed Oliver-Bruno had been taken, holding signs and chanting, “Free Samuel.”

“We want him to get out,” Martinez says. “We’re going to be here as long as we need to be.

UPDATE: Morrisville officials confirmed 27 people were arrested Friday at the protest “without incident or injury.”