Juana Tobar Ortega, 46, was the first undocumented immigrant to seek sanctuary in a North Carolina church after President Trump's election. She's been living at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church since May 2017.

They thought living in churches would protect them. Now they fear nowhere is safe

Updated 4:10 AM ET, Sat December 22, 2018

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Durham, North Carolina (CNN)Samuel's shoes are still by the bed -- the flip flops he wore when he shuffled to the shower, the shiny black loafers he slipped on for Sunday services.

But Samuel is gone. The 47-year-old walked out the door of his basement apartment a month ago and never came back.
The story of Samuel Oliver-Bruno and the church that tried to protect him made national news.
Videos of his arrest at an immigration office went viral. So did the images of religious leaders, church members and supporters locking arms as they surrounded an ICE van in a standoff that lasted hours.
But there was another circle of people you didn't see that day.
They were inside other churches just miles away, glued to their phones and laptops, filled with a growing sense of dread.
    They panicked as they watched live video of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents handcuffing their friend and taking him into custody.
    They grieved when they learned he'd been deported to Mexico less than a week later.
    And they faced a harrowing question that's still haunting them as they prepare to spend another Christmas inside churches they're afraid to leave:
    Will I be next?
    "We are in the same situation," says Juana Tobar Ortega, who's been living in a North Carolina church for nearly 19 months. "And we see that things are getting worse."

    A community shaken

    One by one, the announcements of immigrants taking shelter in churches fell like dominoes across the country after President Trump took office.
    His administration's crackdowns triggered a new chapter in a movement that began in the 1980s with congregations across the US sheltering Central American immigrants facing deportation.
    Nearly two years into Trump's presidency, about 50 people are living in sanctuary inside churches nationwide, according to Church World Service. They are searching for solutions to their immigration cases and hoping ICE will stick to its policy of not arresting anyone in "sensitive locations" -- schools, hospitals or houses of worship -- except in extenuating circumstances.
    Samuel Oliver-Bruno's shoes are still inside the room where he lived at CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham. ICE agents arrested him when he went to an appointment at an immigration office, then deported him to Mexico.