Samuel Oliver-Bruno, his family and supporters gather at CityWell United Methodist Church, where Oliver-Bruno took sanctuary from immigration enforcement in December 2017. 

Immigration officials have denied a petition for deferred deportation by Samuel Oliver-Bruno, who had taken sanctuary at a Durham church for nearly a year before being tackled and arrested by immigration officials at a biometrics appointment last week, according to supporters and two congressmen.

North Carolina congressmen David Price and G.K. Butterfield announced the denial late last night, just days after securing a commitment from Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to deport Oliver-Bruno until his deferment claim was heard.

“For one immigration agency under DHS to advise he follow a legal recourse while another DHS agency plots to apprehend him in the process is a miscarriage of justice,” they wrote in a joint statement.

Oliver-Bruno has lived in the United States for more than twenty years. He was apprehended in 2014 trying to re-enter the country illegally after visiting sick relatives in Mexico and issued a removal order. Last summer, immigration officials told him to leave the country before the end of the year, and Oliver-Bruno took sanctuary at Durham’s CityWell United Methodist Church, hoping to be shielded by an ICE policy that instructs agents to avoid enforcement action at “sensitive locations” like churches, schools and hospitals.  

Oliver-Bruno said at the time he needed to stay in the country to support his wife, who suffers from lupus and a heart condition, and his son, who had been a high school student in Greenville, where the family lived for two decades.

He lived in the church for eleven months until being summoned to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office Friday to provide fingerprints for his deferment claim. There, he was tackled and taken into custody. Twenty-seven people, including CityWell’s pastor and Oliver-Bruno’s son, were arrested trying to prevent agents from taking him away.

The congressmen called on DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson to reverse an order for his removal. Supporters of Oliver-Bruno are also calling for people to call Nielson, as well as the Atlanta ICE office and the notorious Stewart Detention Center, where Oliver-Bruno is being held. They are also holding a vigil tonight at 7 at the Cary ICE office, located at 119 Centrewest Court. Attendees are asked to wear white. Donations can be made to the family via CityWell.