Samuel Oliver-Bruno Kidnapped by ICE: Sanctuary is Disobedience

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Report on the recent attempted blockade of an ICE deportation in Durham, North Carolina.

The biggest sale this year for Black Friday is deportation. As millions gathered around tables and screens, celebrating their families and purchases, we the folks of North Carolina are in mourning. On Friday morning, August 23rd, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) set a biometric trap for Samuel Oliver-Bruno. After eleven months of living in the basement of City Well Church in Durham, advocating for “prosecutorial discretion,” Samuel Oliver-Bruno unsettled sanctuary and left for an immigration appointment in nearby Morrisville. Held by clergy and spirited warriors, Samuel walked into the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office where he was besieged by officers. His son, Daniel, was swept into a mangle of arms and charged with assaulting an officer. As I.C.E officers elbowed clergy out of the office, our community ran around the back of the building and surrounded the transportation vehicle. A fraught stand-off ensued.

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In the shadow of steady chanting, tires were deflated, live streams activated to summon more folks, and hands were held. 27 of us were zip-tied in the scuffle and charged with resisting a public officer and failing to disperse. Morrisville PD bemoaned their task: “We’re very sorry, but we have to do this.” “Don’t worry, I don’t believe in this.” “Our hands are tied.” But if the critique of foundational anti-blackness has taught us anything, it should be that individual shame is a war game: admitting without undoing complicity is the cruel hallmark of white fragility. Indeed, none of these officers are required to activate deportation proceedings and do so by choice. “We won this one,” yelled an agent as he scurried into a van. Robert Alfieri, the regional I.C.E. director screamed at us: “You know, you had to lose!” We who have lost, we who are loss, know now is the time for cocktails made out of rusted nails and toxic tails. As radicals, our charge is to make a way out of no way. We are the diggers of tunnels, the servers of sustenance, the makers of map and music, who have the deportation beast in our grip. Will you take the plunge and squeeze?

It is currently not possible for Samuel to become a U.S. citizen. Samuel was forced to use a birth certificate not of his own to return in 2014 as his wife was enduring open heart surgery. Impersonating a U.S. citizen results in a permanent ban on residency applications. Let us impersonate his birth certificate, let our flesh be the birth certificate of any whom are undocumented, let we who can become the stop on a new railroad of the imagination. Samuel came to be known locally for his guitar skills. Before World War II, instrument strings were most often made from animal intestines. Let us build an orchestra out of the guts of I.C.E. in requiem to borders everywhere. There are 5 other folks in Sanctuary in North Carolina: José Chicas, Juana Tobar Ortega, Rosa del Carmen Ortez CruzEliseo Jimenez, Oscar Canales, and dozens more across the country. Denaturalization and biocriminalization are the newest mutations to haunt sanctuary movements, but discretion remains a powerful force for us who know taking the streets is different than taking to the streets. If the future of undocumented defense rests on the insurgency of discretion, the power is on us to both take and take to the streets. Samuel never left sanctuary. Sanctuary is disobedience or it is not anything.

#ReleaseSamuel #SanctuaryEverywhere #ChingaLaMigra #FTP


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